While he has yet to speak and explain why he decided to leave the career he’d built over decades heading up the basketball division of Creative Artists Agency to take on the challenge of rebuilding the Knicks, Leon Rose has gotten a crash course in what is facing him.
In his first three days as the team president of the Knicks, Rose had a courtside seat for one of the team’s most impressive wins of the season and a wire-to-wire loss. He has seen a bizarre controversy raised over one of the team’s most notable fans, Spike Lee, and then listened to former Knicks standout Charles Oakley opine on team ownership again.
It took him nearly a month to transition from agent to executive and only three days to get the full scope of what life can be like at Madison Square Garden.
From a distance, Utah’s Donovan Mitchell, who grew up a Knicks fan in Westchester and saw the Spike Lee news, was shocked. But as a client of CAA, Mitchell believes that Rose will be able to handle these problems and fix the Knicks.
“I don’t know exactly what happened but I just reacted to what I saw,” Mitchell said of his tweet that responded to a Lee interview on ESPN by commenting, “That’s crazy yo.” But he quickly transitioned to his belief that Rose can mend the fences at Madison Square Garden. “That’s the way I reacted the way I did. But for me, understanding that I think Leon, who I know personally — Leon Rose — things are going to trend upward. I love Leon to death. He’s a great dude, great person and a really good businessman. So I think they’re going to start going in the right direction when he gets in there.
“I just think from the time I’ve known him obviously from the same agency, he’s just a guy who is charismatic. He’s a guy who cares, understands relationships. He has a lot of relationships throughout this league. Obviously myself, Devin Booker and Karl-Anthony Towns. He’s been in the league for a while so he knows how to do things. It’s going to be interesting to see what he does.”
Mitchell has a particularly interesting take on the issues. He not only grew up a Knicks fan nearby the Garden, but also his father, Donovan Sr., has been a longtime employee of the Mets, who have endured their own share of dysfunction.
“It’s tough. It’s no secret the things that’s been happening around [the Knicks],” Mitchell said. “As a team full of guys like that, you have younger guys, you have guys trying to figure it out, sometimes it can just be a distraction. That’s the big media. That’s just what it is.
“So I think they do a good job, the guys on the team do a good job of putting it to bed and going out there and competing. Because they competed [Wednesday]. New York is New York. L.A. is L.A. It’s always going to be like that. There’s always going to be things. So the biggest thing for a team like that is just keep going through it.”