Madison Square Garden executive chairman and Knicks owner James Dolan appeared on “The Michael Kay Show” on ESPN New York radio on Tuesday for a wide-ranging interview in which he explained his side of an incident Saturday afternoon in which he had a fan ejected and later banned from the building.
He also was adamant that he will not sell the Knicks under any circumstances.
After Saturday’s loss to the Kings, a fan yelled “sell the team” at Dolan as he left his courtside seat. The video soon turned up on TMZ. Dolan was heard saying, “You want to not come to any more games?”
Dolan called the fan “rude” and seemed to signal to security officials to deal with him.
On the Kay show, Dolan painted the incident as a confrontation planned by the fan and his friends.
Asked what happened, Dolan said, “Look, let me just start off that I do understand that for the fans it’s about winning and losing, and we haven’t been doing much winning, and there’s a real big frustration there. We get it. I don’t like losing, either. In fact, I probably like it less than almost anybody.’
Regarding the incident, he said, “It’s pretty easy. It appears that this gentleman and his friends planned to do this. That just before the game they cleared their profiles out. We have video which shows them moving from one side of the arena to the other and pointing to me to set this ambush up and they did. Then as soon as they were done with it, it was immediately sold to TMZ. But look, not for nothing, but I shouldn’t have taken the bait.”
When co-host Peter Rosenberg suggested Dolan had “walked into it,” Dolan said, “I did. We had just lost, again, and believe it or not I get frustrated with it, too.”
Dolan said he does not mind most comments from fans, saying, “You hear all kinds of stuff. What is a problem is when someone becomes confrontational, and these people were there for a confrontation.”
Asked why he continues to sit courtside, he said, “I could hide. I’ve been sitting there for 25 years. A, I like the seats. They’re pretty good. B, I like the fans to know I’m engaged . . . There are owners who don’t even live in the cities where their teams play . . . We’re home. We’re here. We’re experiencing the wins and the losses with the fans, and we care.”
He said of the fan who urged him to sell the team, “What he's really saying is quit. It’s not saying sell the team. It’s ‘Quit.’ . . Just for the record, I am not selling the team, and I am not quitting.”
Asked later whether he would consider selling for $6 billion, he said, “No. No, we’re not selling the team. We are not selling the team.”
He added, “Most of the fans get it, they really do . . . Take a look at our record, and then take a look at our attendance.”
Dolan said he initially planned to invite the fan back and explain to him what the team’s plans for the future are. But after it became clear the episode was planned, he said, “I can’t see letting him back in.”
“In the end, look, we would have let him back in,” Dolan said. “Kicking him out is no big deal. The game was over. The ban is only coming from the fact we now have learned he planned it. They were stalking me. No, you can’t do that at Madison Square Garden. You are not allowed to stalk the owner and then confront him like that.”
Dolan said his plan for improving his public image is by winning.
Asked whether the job of owning the Knicks wears on him, he said, “Oh, yeah. Look, we’ve been trying for a long time. This isn’t like the back 40 that we didn’t plow for 10 years.”
Dolan added advice to prospective sports owners: “If your goal is to be beloved, don’t buy a sports team.”