By Joe Pantorno
After a week of being hammered by fans and pundits alike, MSG executive chairman and CEO James Dolan — who owns the New York Knicks and Rangers — released a statement about the current cultural landscape following the murder of George Floyd on May 25.
“Every one of us has a role to play in creating a more just and equal society where there is no racism, bigotry, violence, or hate. We stand with all who act for a positive change,” it read.
Dolan ensured the Knicks and Rangers remained silent in the days following Floyd’s death in which Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes.
In an internal email to MSG staff that can be read below, Dolan caught the ire of his employees:
“We know that some of you have asked about whether our company is going to make a public statement about the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. I want you to know, I realize the importance of the issue. Therefore, I want you to understand our internal position.
This is a turbulent time in our country. The coronavirus and civil unrest have taken their toll on our way of life. We at Madison Square Garden stand by our values of a respectful and peaceful workplace. We always will.”
A day later, he sent a second email doubling down on his silence while imploring MSG employees to “start with ourselves, and through our actions, we define who we are. That is how we can be an example to the wider world.”
Members of the Knicks organization were not nearly as silent as Dolan in recent weeks.
Point guard Dennis Smith Jr. attended a rally in Fayetteville, NC alongside hip-hop artist J. Cole. Other members of the team took to social media to speak out.
“Scared of the world I gotta raise my son in today,” wrote forward Julius Randle. “Not many words to describe what’s been going on. I just know I’m hurt and heartbroken and it’s TIME FOR A CHANGE!”
Rangers players, including defenseman Jacob Trouba, also attempted to advance the national conversation.
“I’ve been listening. Educating myself. Letting others educate me before I speak. I thought I understood, but I didn’t. As a privileged white male, it’s easy for me to live in this country,” Trouba wrote. “I’ve always heard about the pain and fear of others but I don’t know if I ever truly sat with it and tried to imagine. I know that I will never know what it’s like. And now I know that as important as it is to speak up, it’s equally important to listen. Talk with your friends about racism, Black and White. Start conversations, self-reflect, listen, and engage. Black lives matter.”