Knicks Won’t Weigh In on George Floyd, Dolan Tells Employees

Knicks Won’t Weigh In on George Floyd, Dolan Tells Employees

The choice makes the Knicks an exception in a league the place gamers and coaches have referred to as for change on social media and joined protests.

Credit score…Mary Altaffer/Related Press

Management from each N.B.A. group — in a roundabout way, form or type — has weighed in on the dying of George Floyd, the 46-year-old black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis on Could 25. Each group, that’s, besides the Knicks.

And the franchise’s proprietor, James L. Dolan, made clear on Monday that no such assertion was coming.

“We at Madison Sq. Backyard stand by our values of a respectful and peaceable office. We all the time will,” Dolan wrote in an electronic mail to staff, which was obtained by ESPN. “As corporations within the enterprise of sports activities and leisure, we aren’t any extra certified than anybody else to supply our opinion on social issues.”

Dolan’s response was in stark distinction to that of different groups within the league and that of a number of gamers who’ve joined the protests roiling the nation on a nightly foundation. The N.B.A. is the uncommon sports activities league that has outwardly inspired gamers for years to be socially aware on sure points: Police brutality is one in every of them. One of many Knicks’ personal gamers, level guard Dennis Smith Jr., participated in protests in Fayetteville, N.C., over the weekend.

Dolan’s electronic mail got here a day after Commissioner Adam Silver wrote a letter to league staff on the matter. “I’m heartened,” he wrote, “by the various members of the N.B.A. and W.N.B.A. household — gamers, coaches, legends, group homeowners and executives in any respect ranges — talking out to demand justice, urging peaceable protest and dealing for significant change.”

To that finish, a number of group social media accounts have been stuffed with messages from gamers referring to Floyd or in any other case referring to the protests. Some groups within the N.B.A. have been direct. The Washington Wizards issued a press release from its gamers on Sunday that mentioned — in capital letters — “WE WILL NO LONGER TOLERATE THE ASSASSINATION OF PEOPLE OF COLOR IN THIS COUNTRY,” including, “WE WILL NO LONGER ACCEPT THE ABUSE OF POWER FROM LAW ENFORCEMENT,” and “WE WILL NO LONGER SHUT UP AND DRIBBLE.” One franchise, the Minnesota Timberwolves, shared a video displaying a number of gamers going to demonstrations. Representatives for the Knicks didn’t reply to a request for remark.

The Knicks’ crosstown rival, the Nets, launched a press release the identical day that mentioned, “We mourn the mindless lack of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and numerous others who misplaced their lives due to racial bias.” Taylor, an emergency room technician who was black, was shot in her personal condominium by the police in Louisville, Ky., after the execution of a “no knock warrant” in March, and Arbery was a 25-year-old black man who was pursued by armed white residents whereas on a jog in February and was killed.

Some groups spoke by means of a few of their most seen figures or the homeowners themselves. The Toronto Raptors shared an op-ed on social media written by group president Masai Ujiri for The Globe and Mail.

“A dying like this occurs,” Ujiri wrote, “and we rage about it, and the headlines recede, and the world strikes on, after which a number of weeks later one thing else occurs and we’re outraged once more after which we transfer on, once more. We now have to cease that cycle.” Ujiri had his personal altercation with a police officer final yr after the Raptors received the championship at Oracle Area in Oakland, Calif.

Michael Jordan, the proprietor of the Charlotte Hornets, mentioned in a press release, “I stand with those that are calling out the ingrained racism and violence towards individuals of colour in our nation. We now have had sufficient.”

The response to Floyd’s dying hasn’t been restricted to group statements. A number of N.B.A. coaches banded collectively to type a committee to fight racism, and all the league’s coaches issued a assertion on Monday condemning Floyd’s dying, saying that “the fact is that African-People are focused and victimized each day.” A type of coaches, Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs, referred to as a reporter for The Nation to precise criticism of President Trump on Sunday. The Spurs didn’t launch an official assertion and haven’t addressed Floyds dying on their social media platforms, however Popovich can be the group’s president.

“If Trump had a mind, even when it was 99 % cynical, he would come out and say one thing to unify individuals,” Popovich instructed The Nation. “However he doesn’t care about bringing individuals collectively. Even now. That’s how deranged he’s. It’s all about him. It’s all about what advantages him personally. It’s by no means concerning the better good. And that’s all he’s ever been.”

Dolan’s two-decade-long tenure because the Knicks’ proprietor has been tumultuous and largely full of dropping. He has usually clashed with followers, amongst whom he’s reviled. And his assertion additionally stands in distinction to his personal willingness to be publicly political. Throughout the 2016 presidential election cycle, Dolan spent lots of of 1000’s of {dollars} to assist elect Trump as president. He has additionally beforehand weighed in after the capturing of a black man. He as soon as sang a tune about Trayvon Martin along with his band, JD & the Straight Shot. Among the lyrics: “Who’s that strolling?/A shadow on the street/Appears like hassle from a judgment seat/There’s no good underneath that hood.”

The Knicks have been on tempo to overlook the playoffs for the seventh straight season — till the marketing campaign was postponed due to the coronavirus in March. Shortly after the suspension, Dolan introduced that he had examined optimistic for the virus. He has since recovered.

In February, followers at Madison Sq. Backyard chanted “Promote the group!” at Dolan. Dolan even acquired right into a dispute with the Knicks’ most well-known and devoted fan, the movie director Spike Lee, after a battle over, of all issues, which entrance Lee ought to use on the area. Lee vowed to not attend one other Knicks sport this season.

In response to Dolan’s electronic mail, Lee mentioned in a textual content message, “Not Shocked.”

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