Fans aren’t completely irrational. They realize that sometimes an owner has to let a popular player go if he makes the business assessment that you cannot afford him, even if that player set the NBA on fire with his surprising output. But several sources close to New York Knicks owner Jim Dolan are reporting that’s not why he decided not to match the Houston Rockets’ 3-year, $25 million offer to breakout point guard Jeremy Lin. He may have done it out of spite. Now that is how you enrage sports fans.
Whether this was the right business decision for the Knicks is up for debate. Though Linsanity brought in fans and earned the Madison Square Garden company $600 million in spiked market value, some argue that Lin hasn’t had time to prove himself and is therefore a dangerous commodity — especially for that sizable of a contract, plus $35 million in luxury-tax payments.
But if Dolan did this out of spite, he might take the crown as the most hated owner in sports. Frank Isola reported in the New York Daily News on Wednesday, “Dolan, according to sources, felt he was deceived by the 23-year-old Lin.” And Ian O’Conner at ESPN New York says, “According to a source close to the situation, Jim Dolan, a notorious grudge holder, feels betrayed that the Harvard kid took him to school after the Knicks gave him his big shot.”
So for that, you’re going to give up a player who scored 38 points against the Lakers? Lin gave Knicks fans hope, a feel-good story in a terrible season, and Dolan kicked him out the Garden door, possibly for the sake of his own pride. That’s why Knicks fans are up in arms. But how does Dolan measure up to other owners whom fans revile?
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