NEW YORK — Less than 24 hours after sending an email to employees stating that the Madison Square Garden Co. is “not more qualified than anyone else to offer our opinion on social matters,” Knicks owner James Dolan emphasized in a follow-up memo to staff that the company condemns “racism against anyone.”
“Yesterday, I made a sincere attempt to provide my perspective on a very difficult issue, one that has no easy answers,” Dolan wrote in Tuesday’s email, which was obtained by ESPN. “I know how important this topic is to so many, and I do not want there to be any confusion about where I as an individual, or we as a company stand. So let me be clear: we vehemently condemn and reject racism against anyone, period.”
Most NBA teams made public statements condemning racism in the days following George Floyd’s death on May 25 in Minneapolis. Floyd, a black man, was killed after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes.
The Knicks and the San Antonio Spurs have not put out statements, though Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has been a steady voice for social change in recent years, including in a recent interview with The Nation.
In his email Monday, Dolan said some employees “asked whether our company was going to make a public statement about the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.”
Since that email surfaced publicly, the Knicks and Dolan have faced backlash, with further confusion brewing after the team’s official Instagram account posted to its feed Tuesday morning a black square with the hashtags #BlackOutTuesday and #NBATogether. #BlackOutTuesday started in the music industry but became a viral attempt to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
“My point yesterday was about actions, and the importance of living your values,” Dolan’s Tuesday email continued. “At Madison Square Garden, we have worked hard to build an environment of inclusion and mutual respect and those are the values we try to live every day.
“Racism is born of ignorance and it’s up to each of us to understand the person working beside you is your equal without regard to color, or any of the other qualities that make us diverse. And any injustice to one person is an injustice to everyone.
“This is how we at MSG fight racism. We start with ourselves, and through our actions, we define who we are. That is how we can be an example to the wider world. That was the point of my message yesterday.
“I am proud of the environment you have created here. I know that this is a difficult time, and that we will always need to communicate with one another on hard issues. I will continue to do as much as I can to do as much as I can to help make our community even better. I know you will also.”