When Duke star RJ Barrett was drafted by the New York Knicks, he was thrilled. His grandfather was a huge Knicks fan, his father Rowan played for St. John’s and we believe his mother grew up in the city.
It was, in a real sense, a homecoming.
Except of course that James Dolan owns the Knicks and Dolan, like Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, who is now deeply unpopular among Redskins fans, is the definition of failure in sports ownership.
In fairness, Dolan also owns the New York Rangers and he’s mostly left them alone lately and the team has at least been more succesful than the Knicks.
Ah, the Knicks.
It’s hard to remember all the stupid things the man has done so we would refer you to Wikipedia for a comprehensive list of poor decisions and personal failures.
The greatest franchises - the Boston Celtics, the New England Patriots, the San Antonio Spurs, the O’ Malley Dodgers and the pre-Steinbrenner Yankees - became great and stayed great because players trusted and respected owners, at least partly because they were honest, but also because they hired great people to run those franchises and let them do their jobs.
If you studied all these franchises and why they succeeded, we’re pretty sure you’d find that loyalty was one of the primary reasons they did.
That will never be the case for the Knicks as long as Dolan owns them. He’s thin-skinned and vengeful and shows no particular signs of loyalty to anyone other than, ludicrously, Isaiah Thomas (see the Wikipedia article for reasons why this is bizarre).
We saw this very recently when, just a few games in and with a newly overhauled roster, the Knicks threatened to fire respected coach David Fizdale if things didn't improve quickly - only to turn on a dime after one win - one! - and be excited again.
What’s the point of that? If you want to fire the man then fire him. But making a big deal out of threatening to do it? Who does that help?
The Knicks were shocked this past summer when high profile free agents passed them by and signed with other teams like the Brooklyn Nets.
They shouldn't have been. Those guys know exactly what’s going on with the Knicks and don’t want any part of it.
And while we hope that Barrett can continue to be happy with his dream team, at some point, the poor management and the losing is likely to grate on him. Duke was an exceptionally well run program. His own father runs the Canadian national basketball program and from all evidence does it very well.
Barrett knows what success looks like and he’s not seeing it in New York.
At some point he’s going to have to decide if his dream is worth the pain of consistent losing and whiplash management decisions. He may look at other teams and see the difference that good management makes and decide to set his dream team aside and go somewhere else and win again.
And who could blame him?