Madison Square Garden executive chairman James Dolan at a game...

Madison Square Garden executive chairman James Dolan at a game between the New York Knicks and the Chicago Bulls at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 29, 2020. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The Knicks became the final NBA team to issue a statement on the killing of George Floyd and the protests that have followed.

In the statement released Tuesday on the Twitter accounts of the Knicks, Rangers and Madison Square Garden, the organization wrote, “Every one of us has a role to play in creating a more just and equal society where there is no racism, bigotry, violence or hate. We stand with all who act for positive change.”

The Knicks had been criticized for their silence. A pair of internal memos sent to staff from Madison Square Garden executive chairman and CEO James Dolan earlier this month sought to explain why they were not speaking out, arguing that actions were more important than words.

Some of the NBA's most prominent players have taken a lead role in the protests. Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo spoke at a march in Milwaukee. Jaylen Brown of the Celtics led a protest in Atlanta and was joined by Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon, whose grandfather marched with Martin Luther King Jr. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban joined a protest in Dallas.

The Knicks' first step came through an internal company email that addressed questions from employees about the team's lack of a public response. The email said that how the organization treated each other was what mattered most, which prompted some employees to meet to discuss their displeasure.

In a second company email, Dolan wrote, "Yesterday, I made a sincere attempt to provide my perspective on a very difficult issue, one that has no easy answers. I know how important this topic is to so many, and I do not want there to be any confusion about where I as an individual, or we as a company stand. So let me be clear: we vehemently condemn and reject racism against anyone, period. It is against every value that we hold dear.

“My point yesterday was about actions, and the importance of living your values. At Madison Square Garden, we have worked hard to build an environment of inclusion and mutual respect and those are the values that we try to live every day. Racism is born of ignorance and it’s up to each of us to understand that the person working beside you is your equal without regard to color, or any of the other qualities that make us diverse. And any injustice to one person is an injustice to everyone.

“This is how we at MSG fight racism. We start with ourselves, and through our actions, we define who we are. That is how we can be an example to the wider world. That was the point of my message yesterday,” he added. “I am proud of the environment you have created here. I know that this is a difficult time, and that we will always need to communicate with one another on the hard issues. I will continue to do as much as I can to help make our community even better. I know you will also.”

The Knicks joined other NBA teams by posting a black square on the team's Instagram account a week ago to commemorate "Blackout Tuesday," an online protest against racism and police brutality. A number of players on the team also posted the same message, including Julius Randle, RJ Barrett, Damyean Dotson, Frank Ntilikina, Taj Gibson and Kevin Knox. Dennis Smith Jr. has been active in his hometown in North Carolina, helping lead protests.



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