Dolan Lectures Media, Denies Rift With Walsh, D'Antoni Over 'Melo Trade
Knicks Owner James Dolan yesterday in his first public comments since July "lectured members of the news media for a litany of reports he found objectionable," and he "denied any rift with his top basketball executives and disputed reports that Isiah Thomas, the former team president, played any role" in the team's trade for F Carmelo Anthony, according to Howard Beck of the N.Y. TIMES. Dolan "spoke sternly, pausing between words for emphasis and squinting occasionally as he made an important point." Of the "three minutes he spent at the lectern, 2 minutes 23 seconds were spent talking about the news media." Dolan: "The idea that we were not in agreement is simply not true." Dolan said Thomas was "not at all involved in this process." Dolan: "He wasn't advising me or telling me what to do in any way. And any reports that implied that he was doing that are simply untrue, and a fiction in somebody's mind." Beck writes Dolan's address "momentarily spoiled the festivities, until Anthony got a chance to speak." Meanwhile, Dolan yesterday "for the first time" praised the job that Knicks President of Basketball Operations Donnie Walsh "has done in reviving a moribund, controversy-plagued franchise." But Dolan "has yet to pick up an option on Walsh's contract for next season, and he made no public commitment" yesterday (N.Y. TIMES, 2/24). Dolan said Walsh did a "great job on this trade." In N.Y., Marc Berman writes yesterday's press conference was a "bizarre time for Dolan to revisit the topic and mention Thomas" (N.Y. POST, 2/24). Dolan said he and Walsh "have agreed to get through the trade deadline and we will sit down and discuss his contract, which expires in June." Dolan: "We will comment on that at the appropriate time" (NEWSDAY, 2/24). In N.Y., Mitch Lawrence writes it was "truly difficult to believe Dolan ... when he talked about how he, Donnie Walsh and Mike D'Antoni were in lockstep" regarding the trade for Anthony. Lawrence: "Nobody bought Dolan's statement" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/24).
RAUCOUS DEBUT: Anthony made his Knicks debut last night against the Bucks, and ESPN N.Y.'s Chris Sheridan writes, "Amid an electric atmosphere rarely seen, heard or felt at Madison Square Garden for more than a decade, a sleep-deprived Carmelo Anthony made his New York Knicks debut a smashing success." There was "no mistaking the level of excitement that manifested itself in so many ways as Anthony's Knicks career began." Anthony: "I think New York needed a moment like this" (ESPNNY.com, 2/24). ESPN.com's J.A. Adande wrote, "The biggest market has that big-event feel again. The Garden has some of the best game-operations people in the business, and they were on point with their music and pregame videos that struck a perfect chord" (ESPN.com, 2/23). On Long Island, Neil Best writes it was a "raucous, only-in-New York welcoming party." Best: "For one evening at the World's Most Famous Arena, it was a good night to be a Knick" (NEWSDAY, 2/24).