Just when you thought your opinion of James Dolan couldn’t get any lower comes this: The New York Knicks owner has reportedly banned Woody Allen from Madison Square Garden’s VIP lounge.
Because it’s Dolan we’re talking about, you know his beef with Allen has to be petty, and guess what? It is! Apparently, the MSG Network, which Dolan owns, bought the rights to several of Allen’s films and wanted him to tape some segments discussing them. Maybe not such a big ask of some directors, but definitely not Allen’s style. So he passed. And now Dolan has cut him off from the all-you-can-eat shrimp cocktail and cheap champagne. Way to go, Jd! (Nickname courtesy of Dolan’s terrible rock band: "Jd and the Straight Shot." You can’t make this stuff up, and with Dolan, there’s never a need to.)
You might think that the widely reviled owner of a storied franchise that has won all of three games before Thanksgiving might be inclined to keep his head down, or at least not publicly humiliate himself by “punishing” one of his team’s most famous fans. But that’s not how Dolan operates. The Knicks may not be able to get on a roll, but Dolan sure has. Already this season, he has chewed out his new general manager, Steve Mills, for the poor performance of a team that Mills didn’t assemble, and ordered the Knicks City Dancers -- probably the most entertaining thing on the floor of the Garden -- to dance less.
Dolan, of course, has been pile-driving the Knicks into the ground for years. It takes a rare sort of incompetence to fail -- over and over and over again -- to build anything resembling a competitive team in a city that is not only basketball-crazy but also the nation's largest media market. I won’t depress Knick fans with all of the terrible basketball decisions Dolan has made since taking over the team in 1999, because they’re only a small part of what makes him special. After all, other owners have destroyed their franchises and alienated their fans. With his reverse Midas touch, Dolan has done all that and now more, transforming a creepy old movie director into a beleaguered and sympathetic sports fan.
(Jonathan Mahler is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow him on Twitter.)