Monday, February 9, 2015

Cantankerous Knicks Owner Sent Poison Pen Piece to an Angry Fan

James Dolan, the CEO of Cablevision and owner of the New York Knicks (not the Archbishop of New York) has a reputation for being cantankerous.  Dolan embodied that idiosycrasy in his email exchange with an angry Knicks fan.

Irving Bierman, a 73 year old Knicks fan sent Dolan a cri-de-coeur as the Knicks are 10-41, which is the worst record in the NBA.  Bierman wrote:

60 year Knicks fan Irving Bierman [photo: Mike Spencer for New York Daily News 
"I have been a Knicks fan since 1952. At one stage I thought that you did a wonderful thing when you acquired EVERYTHING from your dad. However, since then it has been ALL DOWN HILL.  
Your working with Isaiah (sic) Thomas & everything else regarding the Knicks. Bringing on Phil Jackson was a positive beginning, but lowballing Steve Kerr was a DISGRACE to the Knicks. The bottom line is that you merely continued to interfere with the franchise.

As a Knicks fan for in excess of 60 years, I am utterly embarrassed by your dealings with the Knicks. Sell them so their fans can at least look forward to growing them in a positive direction Obviously, money IS NOT THE ONLY THING. You have done a lot of utterly STUPID business things with the franchise. Please NO MORE." 

Granted, Bierman's critical sentiments must have been hard for the Knicks owner to hear.  But Dolan would take no guff from a plebian fan of the Knicks.  So Dolan retorted with a poison pen piece.

[Front-Center] New York Knicks owner James Dolan
"Mr Bierman. You are a sad person. Why would anybody write such a hateful letter. I am just guessing but ill bet your life is a mess and you are a hateful mess. What have you done that anyone would consider positive or nice. I am betting nothing. In fact ill bet you are a negative force in everyone who comes in contact with you. You most likely have made your family miserable. Alcoholic maybe. I just celebrated my 21-year anniversary of sobriety. You should try it. Maybe it will help you become a person that folks would like to have around. In the mean while, start rooting for the Nets because the Knicks don't want you."
 Wow.  How to win friends and influence people--not!  It might have been a satisfying cathartic to put an angry fan "in his place" and tell him to switch allegiance but to pull out from your nether regions an ad hominem insinuation that your interlocutor is an alcoholic is remarkable.

Irving Bierman offered a measured response as he noted that he has not drank alcohol since he was 18. Bierman still stands by his critique: "[Dolan] has the audacity to tell me to become a Nets fan - you got to be kidding me.  He gets belligerent because I expressed an opinion.  It's a valid opinion." Bierman's wife was a little more colorful calling Knicks owner Dolan "a sick puppy".

Assuredly this exchange was not private as it was shared via social media. Last season, the NBA forced Donald Sterling to sell his ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers due to some untoward comments made in private. But Jimmy Dolan nixed a longtime Knicks fan in the arena of public opinion.

New York Knicks fans have the highest average ticket prices in the NBA at $129.38 for a hopelessly uncompetitive team.  Some sports franchises do well despite not having success on the playing field. The Chicago Cubs have not won the World Series in over a century (nor played in the Championship Series since 1945), yet they have a fiercely loyal fan base which included storied Bleacher Bums. But Wrigley Field is considered "A Nice Little Place on the North Side" by George Will (2014) and the Cubs has developed connections between the team and the fans. It can be argued that before the Brooklyn Dodgers abandoned the bandbox Ebbits Field, they were liked and considered vital parts of the community.

 Dolan showed his contempt of longtime loyal fans in his bilious bloviation by put them in their place  unjustifiable character smears. What a small man with horrible P.R. skills! What does that say about the man?  With Dolan in charge, is that the sort of franchise you would want to spend your time and treasure?

In the land of the free, people should have the right to say what they want (as long as it is true) even if they sound idiotic.  A league should not enforce political correctness as it did in taking the reins from Donald Sterling.  That being said, that does not mean that fans do not have any sway.

The NBA is holding its All Star Game on February 15th and guess who's hosting it?  New York City (Brooklyn) where Jimmy Dolan urges disappointed Knicks fans to cheer.

h/t: Deadspin

Sunday, February 8, 2015

A Tribute to Dean Smith

Dean Smith on Mistakes

Dean Smith, the coach of the University of North Carolina Tar Heels from 1961 to 1997, died on February 7th, 2015 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina at the age of 83.  Smith had been suffering from advanced dementia for years.

Dean Smith retired with 879 wins under his belt with the 9th highest winning percentage in college basketball (77.6%).  During his tenure as the head coach of the Tar Heels, Smith's teams appeared in 11 NCAA Final Four games and won two national championships in 1982 and 1993. While the recent exposure of the Tar Heel Paper Courses scandal took away some of the luster from the 1993 championship, Smith's motto about mistakes offers a positive way forward.  

Although Dean Smith did not have a set coaching style, his Tar Heel teams tended to feature a fast break half court offense that stressed passing along with a trapping defense that created turnovers and easy baskets.  Smith's coaching popularized the "tired signal" of a raised fist, huddles before free throws, having point guards call out set defenses.  Dean Smith innovated several defensive sets, including the point zone, double teaming the screen and roll and the run and jump. 

Dean Smith was also known for employing the Four Corners Offense, which a team with a lead stalled.   The NCAA instituted a shot clock in 1985 to speed up play and discourage ball control offense thereby foiling the Four Corners Offense.

Tar Heels and college hoops fans will mourn the passing of Dean Smith.