Brandon Tierney is a big fan of Adam Silver, but he feels the NBA commissioner took a big swing and a miss on the pass he gave New York Knicks owner James Dolan, who emailed a disgruntled fan and told him to root for the Brooklyn Nets.
Silver brushed the incident under the rug, saying, “Jim got an unkind email and responded with an unkind email.” Silver even called Dolan “a consummate New Yorker” – even though he is despised by many in the area.
Tierney, a Brooklyn native, found the whole saga very offensive.
“Yeah, I can’t argue with you,” CBSSports.com NBA writer Ken Berger said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “There’s a fine line there. The NBA has obviously gone down a road of controlling and monitoring all kinds of communication. You saw that was what brought down an owner with the LA Clippers and Donald Sterling with his comments, obviously much different and much more severe than what Dolan said, and the ownership in Atlanta and the GM, Danny Ferry, with their email communication – again of a very different and severe nature.”
Indeed, Dolan’s comments had nothing to do with race, but it still rubbed a lot of New Yorkers the wrong way.
“So the question is, if you’re the commissioner, where do you draw the line?” Berger asked. “Owners have been fined before for engaging fans in the arena if they use profanity or confront people in any way. And the NBA – ever since the brawl at the Palace – has been very conscious of keeping that line of separation between the participants and the people who pay the bills, the paying customers.
“With this situation, it kind of falls in that gray area,” Berger continued. “You can’t force a guy to sell a team unless he does something like Donald Sterling did. There’s been plenty of bad owners in the NBA, and you can’t get rid of them unless they do something egregious. So what do you do with this guy? I mean, on some level, you can’t argue with the money that the guy has spent. It’s just it’s been misspent in many ways. What are you going to do? Knick fans, as far as I can see, are stuck with him.”
To be clear, Tierney doesn’t believe Dolan should lose the team over this email, but he does feel that some sort of punishment should have been issued. The league is nothing without its fans – which Silver knows – and this incident angered a lot of fans.
“It did,” Berger said, “but did it piss them off any more than the performance and the product on the court? That, to me, is really what’s most important, and that’s where, if I’m a Knick fan, I have the biggest issue. This team is just kind of wandering in the dark.”
The Knicks (10-42) have the worst record in basketball. Not exactly a great first year for new team president Phil Jackson.
“There’s always a new savior,” Berger said. “There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel, and it kind of excuses the mistakes of the past because, ‘Hey, I wasn’t here for that. We’re going somewhere different.’ We’ll see. We’ll see where Phil takes this team.”