Only two NBA teams have released a statement on the killing of George Floyd, and one of those teams is the San Antonio Spurs, whose coach Gregg Popovich made a lengthy public statement. There have been personal statements from coaches on behalf of the organization, statements from owners, official team releases, and the Wizards players released their own statement.
The New York Knicks are the other team not to make a statement.
This is the same franchise that released multiple statements ripping fan favorite Charles Oakley. That released a statement about the entrance Spike Lee uses to get to his seat. That released a statement when Richard Jefferson said he knew it was time to retire when only the Knicks offered him a deal. Those Knicks have not released a statement on the death of George Floyd or the ensuing protests that have filled New York City Streets.
Knicks players and staff are pissed about that, according to multiple reports.
James Dolan sent an email to Madison Square Garden Company employees on Monday explaining his position, saying it was not the place of a sports and entertainment business to weigh in on such matters. Via Pablo S. Torre of ESPN:
I'm told that Knicks players and employees are furious that the team hasn't made a public statement about George Floyd. And I just obtained the e-mail that owner Jim Dolan sent to MSG employees today defending the organization's decision to stay silent: pic.twitter.com/xG1BA7tV5V
— Pablo S. Torre (@PabloTorre) June 2, 2020
That’s not going to play well in the building.
To Dolan what matters will be how it plays with team sponsors/vendors/advertisers. If the lack of a statement hits the owner in the pocketbook, that’s when there are changes.
It should be noted that James Dolan, the owner of Madison Square Garden and the Knicks, is an avid supporter of President Doland Trump and has donated to his re-election campaign. President Trump is considering using the United States military against United States citizens to quell the protests.
Would a statement by the Knicks somehow change the conversation? Obviously not. And certainly there will be differing opinions within the organization The reason other NBA teams — and the league itself — have used their platform and made statements is because they understand change needs to happen and they can be a part of it in their communities. They see what is right. They see a chance to be leaders, not just entertainers.
If the Leon Rose era Knicks are working to build a new culture, one that will draw free agents and be a place guys are eager to play, this is not a step in the right direction. Players and agents will take note.