The strange, the weird and the obsessive are all found among NBA owners. Donald Sterling heckles his own players, Mikhail Prokhorov carefully cultivates one of most mysterious reputations in the league, and the Maloofs are their own caricature. New York’s James Dolan fits right in, because what he did Friday night is even stranger than fiction.
From the Newark Star-Ledger, here may be two of the weirder paragraphs you’ll read this week:
Two audio technicians were stationed at two corners of the court — one a few feet just behind the Knicks bench, the other diagonally opposite — and they were holding those umbrella-shaped contraptions known as parabola microphones, which fed the audio into a DAT recorder on the truck on the loading dock.
These guys had one directive from Dolan: Record every syllable Carmelo Anthony utters and absorbs while he’s on the court and on the bench, the Madison Square Garden CEO ordered them, and send the tape directly to me.
For the defense: Dolan just wanted to get a transcript more of what opponents and fans were saying to Anthony, rather than what the Knicks’ forward actually said. The intent of course being he could show it as evidence, um, somewhere (?) that Anthony is being baited.
For the prosecution: In Carmelo’s first full season as Madison Square Garden and with a promising start fading, even slowly, Dolan wanted to see if his star player could handle the pressure after a publicized blowup. Without being able to implant a sensor in Carmelo to track his movement, he tries to listen into his thoughts the closest he knows how. If this version is true, how could Dolan possibly tell Anthony about his plans — whether beforehand or after reports got out — and not make the star question the owner’s loyalty and belief in his skills and makeup?
For much more context on Dolan, please read this whole article in SI from 2007 about Dolan, but here’s one example of his odd behavior and how everything, either after a while or immediately, becomes about Dolan.
Since his first taste of performing in public, on Sanibel Island, the 51-year-old billionaire has made even the band all about him. He built a rehearsal studio on the grounds of his Long Island estate and replaced the Garden’s amateur musicians with professionals; today the band is a five-piece blues outfit called J.D. and the Straight Shot. Dolan wears a fedora onstage, plays rhythm guitar and sings lead. For his sporadic performances at New York clubs, attendance by staffers is expected and noted.
Maybe it’s not so strange to think the owner who had made his employees listen to his every word with rapt attention would want to do the same to his star employee.
What do you think?
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