Saturday, December 2, 2023

Knicks owner James Dolan resigns from NBA board committee positions: report

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Knicks owner James Dolan resigned his position on the league’s board of governors’ influential advisory/finance and media committees, according to an ESPN report. The owner made the move before launching a lawsuit against the Toronto Raptors that includes questioning the objectivity of NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

“Given all that has occurred lately, I have come to the conclusion that the NBA neither needs nor wants my opinion,” Dolan wrote in a July memo to Silver that he copied to the other 29 league owners.

Dolan informed Silver and his peers of his intentions to no longer attend board of governor meetings, according to ESPN. The Knicks owner didn’t relinquish voting power, but noted he would turn to Knicks general counsel Jamaal Lesane to represent the organization at the BOG meetings, according to the memo.

“My hope is that the Knicks will be treated equally and fairly as all other NBA teams,” Dolan said in the memo.” … As you know, I am very busy with all my duties at MSG family of companies. I need to apply my time where I can be most productive.”

In two recent votes, Dolan was the lone owner to vote “no” on topics that were otherwise unanimous. He voted against Michael Jordan’s sale of the Charlotte Hornets to the group led by Rick Schnall and Gabe Plotkin. Dolan was also against the WNBA expansion to San Francisco, according to ESPN.

In a court filing Monday, the Knicks said they’re seeking more than $10 million in damages from the Toronto Raptors as part of a lawsuit alleging the theft of thousands of confidential files. The team also argued that Silver shouldn’t arbitrate the case due to his close friendship with Raptors governor Larry Tanenbaum.

The recent filing, which was obtained by ESPN, came in response to the Raptors’ Oct. 16 motion to dismiss the Knicks’ initial complaint and have Silver arbitrate the dispute.

The complaint accused former Knicks employee Ikechukwu Azotam, who worked for the Knicks from 2020-23, of sending the Raptors thousands of confidential files — including play frequency reports, a prep book for the 2022-23 season, video scouting files, opposition research and more — after the team began recruiting him to join their organization in summer 2023, according to ESPN.

The Knicks argued in Monday’s filing that Tanenbaum’s position as the chairman of the NBA’s board of governors would create a conflict of interest. The filing continued, “Tanenbaum serves as Silver’s boss and exercises control over and heavily influences Silver’s continued employment and salary.”

“Among other things, Tanenbaum has been described as ‘a close ally of Commissioner Adam Silver,’” the Knicks wrote. “Silver himself described Tanenbaum as ‘not just my boss as the chairman of the board of governors, but he’s very much a role model in my life.’ If Silver were to preside over the instant dispute, he would be arbitrating a case for his boss and ally.”

The Raptors haven’t publicly commented on the matter.

The team also accused Azotam — who worked for the Knicks as an assistant video coordinator, then as a director of video/analytics/player development assistant — of violating a confidentiality clause in an employment agreement and alleged that members of the Raptors “directed Azotam’s actions and/or knowingly benefited from Azotam’s wrongful acts.”

Monday’s filing marked first instance of the Knicks describing potential monetary damages since they filed their initial complaint in August.

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