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James Dolan: No desire to sell Knicks, but can't say I wouldn't consider it

MSG executive chairman said he's received "feelers" for the team in the neighborhood of $5 billion.

James L. Dolan, CEO of the Madison Square

James L. Dolan, CEO of the Madison Square Garden Co. Photo Credit: Getty Images/Maddie Meyer

Madison Square Garden executive chairman James Dolan said in an interview with ESPN released on Monday that neither he nor his family has any desire to sell the Knicks but he "could never say that I wouldn't consider selling the Knicks."

Madison Square Garden released a statement Monday afternoon from Dolan that read, “As we have previously stated, there are no plans to sell the Knicks.”

Dolan, who has served as the primary owner of the Knicks and Rangers since 1999, told ESPN he cannot let his personal feelings get in the way of what is best for shareholders in both teams.

"I can tell you that nobody in my family wants to sell the Knicks and Rangers," Dolan said in an interview with ESPN's Ian O'Connor. "As a majority owner, I don't want to sell, either. As the head of the public company, you can't say you can't sell, because then you're telling your shareholders that your own personal feelings about your assets are more important than their money. And they won't invest with you if you do that.”

Dolan announced in June that he was exploring a separation of his sports franchises — the Knicks and Rangers — from Madison Square Garden, which would make any potential sale easier.

"I love the Knicks and Rangers, right, but you still have a responsibility to your shareholders,” Dolan said. “They're not there because they're fans. You don't invest hundreds of millions of dollars in a stock because you're a fan. You do it because you think that the business is going to increase in value, that the stock price is going to go up. You have a responsibility as the guy who runs the place to deliver on that for them, that's being open and transparent. And so in that position, I could never say that I wouldn't consider selling the Knicks."

The Knicks have been valued at $3.6 billion by Forbes, the most valuable NBA property. And while Dolan acknowledged there have been buyers throwing out numbers in the $5 billion range, he said he has had no real offers.

“No one has come through with a bona fide offer,” Dolan said. “You hear numbers all the time . . . I think people have sent feelers out, but never any that were pursued. Yeah, [the feelers are] around that number, but those things, it's like a stock price. It's only important if you're going to buy or sell.

“The teams are very valuable assets, and they get more valuable every year. I think that will continue to go on. But as a business, you're not killing anybody with your growth. It's single-digit growth. There's really not any way to get it to go beyond that . . . But it's still a good asset. It's better than putting your money in the bank."

Forbes has the Rangers valued at $1.55 billion, putting them at the top of the league's most valuable franchises for the fourth straight year.

MSG announced in November 2017 that it was selling the WNBA's Liberty. MSG, the team's owner since its inception, is still seeking a buyer, and continues to operate the franchise. The Liberty played all but two of their homes games at the Westchester County Center this past summer. Two games were played at the Garden.

"I don't know how to be successful with the Liberty," Dolan said. "We've always tried to be helpful with the league, and I believe in the Liberty product. If you go to a Liberty game, they're fun basketball games to go to. But I'll be damned if I know how to get people to go to those games."

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