Exec's love of Isiah dooms Knicks
If only it were possible to fire Jim Dolan, the Madison Square Garden chairman who has heard that chant at Knicks games before and is guaranteed to hear it again this season.
If Dolan could somehow be removed from his job of overseeing the NBA’s most dysfunctional team, then the Knicks might someday have a real chance to compete for a title.
But Dolan isn’t going anywhere, and that’s not even the worst news for loyal Knicks fans who have had to endure nine straight losing seasons during the Dolan regime.
Dolan delivered the worst possible news when he announced the other day that Isiah Thomas is back as a consultant with the team.
To consult on what, we want to know — how to kill a franchise?
How to throw money away on stiffs like Jerome James? How to give away the ranch for a bum like Eddy Curry? How to get a franchise up to its neck in a sexual harassment case that cost Dolan $11.5 million?
If you’re looking for someone who can consult on failure, Thomas is your man!
After all the damage he did when he ran the Knicks into the ground, Thomas should not be allowed to ever set foot in the Garden again.
But this is one of the NBA’s great “bromances,’’ and Dolan wants to give Isiah another shot at making good.
Which makes Dolan the only person on Earth who has no idea that before Thomas ruined the Knicks, he caused the Continental Basketball Association to go under.
But here’s the best part of the Dolan-Thomas reunion:
Since Donnie Walsh took over in the spring of 2008 as team president, at David Stern’s insistence, Isiah has never really left.
Dolan has been using Thomas as a sounding board — as his unofficial GM, really — even with Thomas going to Miami last year to coach at Florida International University.
Dolan should just stop with the charade and do what he wants to do: officially name Thomas as his new president — which is his old title, with all of his old powers back.
Why keep pretending Thomas is some kind of outsider who only occasionally gives advice? Anyone who understands Dolan and Thomas knows the relationship goes much deeper.
Isiah’s continued presence in Dolan’s ear has been the reason Walsh hasn’t been able to hire Chris Mullin for the past two seasons. Walsh has wanted to bring in Mullin to groom him to take over when he leaves. But every time Walsh asked Dolan to hire the former Golden State GM, he has been told no. So much for having the autonomy to run the basketball operations end of the Knicks that Dolan promised him when he came to New York from Indiana.
Why doesn’t Dolan want Mullin? Plain and simple, because Dolan wants Isiah to have his old post back!
Two weeks ago Dolan even tried to get Walsh to bring in Thomas as GM, and Walsh refused because he knows having Thomas around can only mean trouble. Walsh was so angered by Dolan’s recommendation, he even considered quitting, according to a report in Sunday’s New York Daily News.
Make no mistake: Walsh, who has been in failing health the past few years, is not long for the job, even though he publicly insists he is going to continue working to rebuild the Knicks into contenders.
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In the meantime, Dolan has Thomas in position to return to run his team. His “joint’’ announcement with Walsh the other day said Thomas would consult with Walsh and other high-ranking team officials. But that’s just window-dressing.
Thomas has a direct pipeline to Dolan that no one else in the organization enjoys, and that includes Walsh, Coach Mike D’Antoni and Allan Houston, the ex-Knick who is serving an apprenticeship under Walsh. Houston is a Dolan favorite, but he’s not a favorite like Thomas is. So even if Houston gets the GM post in title in the coming months, he’ll likely one day be reporting to Thomas.
Why? Because it goes back to the man crush that Dolan has on Thomas.
The fact is, if Dolan had handled the sexual harassment case the way his lawyers wanted — by settling the case against former Garden exec Anucha Browne Sanders out of court before it ever went to trial — Isiah never would have lost his job. Just as the Rangers’ top exec, the bumbling Glen Sather, has the job security equal to Chief Justice John Roberts'.
Despite having a full-time coaching gig, Thomas has been working feverishly at getting back with the Knicks since May. And Dolan has been receptive as always. Back in July, when it appeared the Knicks had as much chance as the Clippers of getting LeBron James, Dolan dispatched Isiah to Akron in an 11th-hour recruiting effort. Though that didn’t work, Thomas was given credit for helping the Knicks land Amar’e Stoudemire, who didn’t really have any contact with Thomas until after he agreed to take the $100 million offer that no other team would have made to the former Suns star because of questions about his knee.
When Stoudemire was introduced, Walsh was forced to mention Thomas in the recruitment effort, per Dolan’s demands.
That’s the kind of B.S. that Walsh has had to put up with as he has worked for Dolan, who doesn’t talk to the media. He’s silent, but deadly.
Now comes word Isiah has told Dolan he will succeed where Walsh has failed, in getting marquee free agents to come to New York. Isiah has all but guaranteed Dolan he can get Carmelo Anthony next summer because he has more “street cred’’ than Walsh or anyone else with the Knicks.
Even if that’s just a bill of goods, you don’t think Dolan is buying it?
As Dolan would tell you, when it comes to Isiah, “Till death do us part.’’