If you thought James Dolan would be someone other than James Dolan for even a minute, you were sorely mistaken, because James Dolan just did what James Dolan does. Again. And again. And again.
A New York Knicks season-ticket holder told Deadspin he screamed “Sell the team, Jim!” as Dolan was getting into a limo in front of him outside Madison Square Garden before Tuesday night’s home win over the Chicago Bulls, to which the owner allegedly got in the fan’s face and called him “an a**hole.”
On the surface, that’s one side of a story that might seem a tad embellished, had we not known Dolan’s history in similar scenarios, and it may have blown over as such. Except, Dolan, being Dolan, went full Dolan, actually confirming to Deadspin, “I did call him an a**hole, because he is an a**hole.”
Here is how the fan " 35-year-old attorney Mike Hamersky " his friend Raul Silva and Dolan described the incident to Deadspin from the moment Hamersky shouted about selling the Knicks:
The team owner, rather than getting in the car, turned around and walked toward them, asking who yelled. Hamersky admitted/boasted it was him, and Dolan got in his face and started yelling. Dolan asked Mike Hamersky what he did for a living, and Hamersky told him he’s a lawyer. “I think he was surprised to hear that,” Hamersky says.
Hamersky says Dolan then yelled, “What if I showed up at your office and called you an a**hole? Because you are an a**hole!”
Dolan remembers yelling a bit more at the heckler: “What if I told you, ‘You suck at your job?’ Or, ‘How do you like losing that case?”
And here’s how Dolan defended his role in the back-and-forth with Hamersky to Deadspin:
“I get it. They call me names every day in the paper. Fine. I get it,” Dolan says. “But you’re walking up to the place where I work? It’s like they’re laying in wait for you. It’s like stalking me outside my home. Some people tend to think of team owners like politicians. But we’re not! I didn’t run for any office. These people who yell at you act surprised when you yell back.”
To recap: One of the NBA’s 30 owners " the billionaire son of a media mogul who inherited the team from his father " not only called a season-ticket holder “an a**hole,” but defended it publicly rather than letting inquires about the unfortunate exchange go by the wayside or offering a “no comment.”
And how about the “What if I showed up at your office?” bit. It’s as if Dolan just watched the “Seinfeld” episode where Jerry heckles his heckler at her workplace and thought that’s just what New Yorkers do:
If you figured this couldn’t be the first time Dolan’s been told to sell the Knicks, you’d be right. In fact, the Knicks owner reminded us of one of those times in his defense to Deadspin: “It’s like when I got that incredibly derogatory email, and so I wrote back an incredibly derogatory email, and these people are surprised?” Indeed, we’re just two years removed from Dolan offering this to an emailer who wrote, “Sell them so their fans can at least look forward to growing them in a positive direction”:
You are a sad person. Why would anybody write such a hateful letter. I am.just guessing but ill bet your life is a mess and you are a hateful mess. What have you done that anyone would consider positive or nice. I am betting nothing. In fact ill bet you are negative force in everyone who comes in contact with you. You most likely have made your family miserable. Alcoholic maybe. I just celebrated my 21 year anniversary of sobriety. You should try it. Maybe it will help you become a person that folks would like to have around. In the mean while start rooting.for the Nets because the Knicks don't want you.
Dolan also defended that exchange publicly, just as he did in February, when he accused Charles Oakley of lying after the Knicks legend denied allegedly yelling at Dolan during his arrested on assault charges at MSG earlier this season. And just as he did with the emailer and Oakley, Dolan " an admitted recovering alcoholic himself " charged Hamersky with being intoxicated in their exchange.
“He had an open bottle of beer and smelled of alcohol, and I told him he wasn’t going in,” Dolan told Deadspin. By Hamersky’s own account, he was drinking a beer outside MSG at the time, but not intoxicated, because he was coming straight from teaching a class at Fordham University’s law school, and Dolan’s security allegedly followed him several blocks to ensure he couldn’t enter the building.
I do not presume to know why a law professor would go on record about all this, but Hamersky told Deadspin that not only did he and his friend find a way into the building on Tuesday night, he intends to renew his season tickets, which I’m guessing Dolan will have something to say about in the future.
When Dolan’s email exchange with a fan went public, NBA commissioner Adam Silver dismissed it:
Tim Bontemps " @TimBontemps
Adam Silver on Dolan's email: “Jim is a consummate New Yorker. Jim got an unkind email, and responded with an unkind email.”
Silver was not so accepting of Dolan’s actions when they were directed at Oakley this February, so it will be interesting to see if and how the league ] responds to James Dolan being James Dolan again, because it doesn’t seem wise to have NBA owners doubling down on calling fans “a**holes” in public.