OUR SPORTS WORLD
After seeing two altercations in the NBA that involved the fans, I have to ask, since when is being a jerk a badge of honor?
To put it nicely, James Dolan’s reign as owner of the New York Knicks has been less than stellar. Or in New York speak, it’s sucked. In 2015, a 73-year old fan wrote a letter critical of Dolan’s tenure. Dolan answered with a letter of his own telling the fan to “root for the Nets because the Knicks don't want you.” In 2017, Dolan had former Knick Charles Oakley forcibly removed from Madison Square Garden after Oakley contended that his requests for a meeting were ignored. So when a fan implored Dolan to “sell the team” on Saturday, Dolan does what he usually does. He threw his weight around and banned the fan from the arena. Dolan then went on a media blitz, claiming he’s a victim of an “ambush” by the fans.
Dolan exemplifies how NOT to run an organization. He believes that he knows more than he actually does. Those he does leave in charge are there more because of their relationship with Dolan than their abilities. I mean, Dolan gave Isiah Thomas not one, but TWO opportunities to run the Knicks into the ground.
I’m about as far from being a New York sports fan as one can be. I can even say that I have received great delight in watching New York teams crash and burn. But even I think this ineptitude has gone on long enough for Knicks fans. They deserve better than what they’ve gotten from the James Dolan era.
If Dolan thought he thought one fan yelling “sell the team” was bad, wait until he goes to the next home game. If there's one thing that I do admire about New York fans, they've got advanced degrees in heckling...
There’s been a debate on what exactly a Jazz fan said to Russell Westbrook at Monday’s game between Oklahoma City and Utah, but the results have been swift. Westbrook was fined $25,000 by the NBA “for directing profanity and threatening language to a fan." The Jazz followed up by banning the fan from all events in the arena for life.
Westbrook said that he heard the fan say, “Get on your knees like you’re used to.” Westbrook called the comments "completely disrespectful" and "racial." And when he heard then, he went on a explicit rant and threatened to harm the fan and the woman he was with. The fan contends that he told Westbrook to “ice those knees up” and meant nothing derogatory. He reiterated his comments in an interview with a Salt Lake news crew.
Look, I understand that Westbrook was angry and if someone had said that to me, I’d be angry too. But you just can’t threaten someone like that. You can't threaten a woman like that, who by all accounts didn't respond in any way. He’s had similar run-ins with the fans in Utah before. You have to turn away and channel your anger in another way. It’s something easier said than done, I’m certain. But Westbrook has to find a way to control himself better. He needs to BE better.
As for the other side of the story, the old adage of those who live in glass houses continues to ring true. By most accounts of players and sportswriters around the league, Utah Jazz fans are the worst in the NBA. This particular fan’s ugly comments about race relations were brought to light on his various social media accounts. I won’t dig them up here for the website. Most of the truly heinous ones have been deleted. But just a quick search had shown the fan to be, sadly, exactly you might think he would be: angry, offensive, and uncivil.
Since I spent most of this week using up tissue boxes and coughing up a lung, I haven’t exactly been what I’d call productive. I’ve spent most of my time under a blanket and catching up with podcasts. One of my favorites is Mo Rocca’s podcast, Mobituaries. It tells historical biographies with Rocca’s dry sense of humor. One of the best ones I heard was the episode where he profiles the great Audrey Hepburn. In addition to being one of the greatest movie icons ever, she may have been one of the most caring and gentle souls ever as her long association with UNICEF can attest.
At the end of the episode, something Rocca said struck me. I know that he was talking about the world in general, but since I write about sports, I couldn’t help but think about the two confrontations regarding the fans that have been the talk around the NBA. And how sad it's made me.
“On those days when the news is particularly dreary and people are being especially awful and I’m flipping through the channels and I land on one of her movies. I can’t help but wonder, how did we drift so far from Audrey Hepburn?”