Congratulations, James Dolan. In the 17 weeks that we’ve been dredging the sports cesspool to find the worst jerks in athletics, you are the first two-time winner (loser).
Earlier this year, the Knicks owner was crowned the Jerk of the Week for his treatment of Charles Oakley, for going on the radio and accusing Oakley of having some pretty serious booze and anger problems. Dolan’s behavior was petty and mean and he earned every bit of the JOTW title two months ago.
But this week, Dolan revealed his inner jerk once again when he made us all cringe with the story of him getting in the face of a Knicks fan and cursing the guy out simply because Mike Hamersky, a lawyer with expensive seats, hardly a sympathetic character, wished Dolan would sell the team.
“I did call him an a–hole,” Dolan told Deadspin, “because he is an a–hole.”
Really? This is a professional team owner? This is how the guy who presides over one of the most powerful organizations in sports acts?
Sadly, for New York sports fans, this is par for the course with Dolan. He is, after all, the same guy who responded to an email from an incensed fan two years ago by insinuating the guy was probably a sad alcoholic and that he should “start rooting for the Nets because the Knicks don’t want you.”
Say what you will about the Patriots, but could you imagine Bob Kraft lowering himself into the gutter to respond to a fan like that? Or Woody Johnson? It would be surprising if even the vocal Mark Cuban acted like such a child.
It’s gotten to the point where there would be a huge party on Seventh Ave. if Dolan ever sold the Knicks, a celebration the likes of which we’ve never seen in sports. We’re talking Times Square on V-J Day in 1945, Bushwood Country Club when Danny Noonan sinks the putt on 18. Knicks fans would lose their minds if Dolan ever sold the team, which is worth a reported $3.3 billion, according to Forbes. So Hamersky is not alone in wishing the Knicks were owned by someone else.
Ultimately though, fans don’t really care who owns the team, so long as the Knicks are competitive. Dolan also owns the Rangers, and we aren’t aware of any incidents outside the Garden between Dolan and Ranger fans because the Blueshirts are not a joke, they play hard and they make the playoffs regularly. They win more than they lose.
If the Knicks were more competitive, if they won more than a single playoff round in 17 years, Dolan would be hard pressed to find someone yelling at him to “sell the team.” But the fact remains that the Knicks have been a garbage fire for years, this season has been littered with embarrassment on and off the court, and Dolan, sitting courtside every game, has certainly heard a lot worse from fans than what Hamersky allegedly yelled out.
Like it or not, Dolan is a public figure. He’s a celebrity. He’s the owner of a terrible team in a city that used to be a basketball metropolis. As such, he must have thicker skin. He must. He’s also a grown man, an adult, and you’d expect him to have the maturity and class to ignore the rants of a pissed off fan on the street after a game and just get into his limo and be on his way instead of engaging the guy to defend the indefensible product on the court.
The Knicks are bad. They’ve been bad for a while. Dolan must realize that this comes with the territory.
In kindergarten, they teach you a lot. They teach you to share and play fair, to flush and to wash your hands. But there is also an important kindergarten-level lesson that Dolan should remember the next time he gets annoyed with an angry fan because the Knicks are not good.
It is to clean up your own mess.
And the Knicks are Dolan’s mess. At some point, if they are ever going to turn it around, Dolan has to stop acting like a jerk and start acting like an owner of a once-proud NBA franchise.
Because in sports and in life, nobody else is going to clean up your mess for you. Especially if you’re a jerk.
BALL IS OUT OF BOUNDS. AGAIN.
LaVar Ball, please shut up already. The clown prince of sports parents was at it again this week when he blamed UCLA’s tournament loss on the white kids on the team. Ball, who has said some light and entertaining and outlandish things in the last month is now veering into dangerous territory. He is becoming much worse than an insufferable jerk before our very eyes.
Last week, he questioned the mental health of his sons’ high school basketball coach. That was mean. This week, Lonzo Ball’s dad was flat-out racist when he blamed UCLA’s Sweet 16 loss on the Bruins’ “three white guys.”
“Realistically you can’t win no championship with three white guys because the foot speed is too slow,” LaVar Ball told the Orange County Register. “I told Lonzo — ‘One of these games you might need to go for 30 or 40 points.’ It turned out the that was the one game. Then once they get to the Elite 8, they’re right there.”
Imagine for a minute if a white player’s father blamed his son’s loss on the black players on the team. Imagine Archie Manning blaming all the Giants’ black receivers for not showing up for a playoff game. Imagine Magic Johnson using Larry Bird’s race against him in public back in the day. Imagine a hockey analyst (not named Don Cherry) blaming the recent Rangers playoff loss on their Swedish goalie.
There would be outrage. Forced apologies. Yet, LaVar Ball continues to say crazy things. But now those crazy things have devolved from harmless quips like he can beat Michael Jordan in one-on-one to far more hateful speech.
If you didn’t realize this before, LaVar Ball is a terrible jerk who is going to have a platform for many years. And he’s only getting worse.
North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams acted like a huge jerk this week after the Tar Heels, under investigation for some pretty bad infractions like helping basketball and football players cheat their way through school, won the NCAA basketball tournament.
“We did nothing wrong, OK? That’s just the best way to put it,” Williams said. “Were there some mistakes made? You’re darned right there were. Were there some things I wish hadn’t happened? You’re darned right. But there were no allegations against men’s basketball.”
Except, that’s not true. The investigation reportedly focuses on the football and basketball teams.
According to an independent investigation, more than 1,500 UNC student-athletes over an 18-year period were given fake grades and handed in papers written by professional cheaters. In college athletics, these are among the most serious allegations that can hang over a program. These are the kinds of scandals that can destroy a school.
Williams might be tired of the investigation, which has been going on for years. But he should also respect the fact that these charges hang over his team’s head, over the school’s reputation, and he should respect that these are serious issues. He should realize he is employed by a university, where everyone else not on his team is there for an education.
Failing to do so just makes him a jerk.
Finally, an eagle-eyed golf fan ratted out Lexi Thompson last weekend and emailed the LPGA to point out that Thompson should have been penalized for a bad placement a day earlier, a penalty judges did not initially catch. Thompson was retroactively penalized on Sunday and wound up losing the ANA Inspiration in a playoff, due in large part to the penalty.
We are all for fair play and following the rules, but this is basically getting caught by one of those red light cameras. So weak. This was nothing more than some jerk at home being a tattle tale.