MSG, Knicks issue statement on racial equality

NEW YORK — Eight days after Knicks owner James Dolan sent an email to the staff explaining why the Madison Square Garden Co. would not publicly comment on the outrage following George Floyd’s death, the company has issued a statement.

On Tuesday, the Knicks team account tweeted a statement from the Madison Square Garden Sports and entertainment companies, saying “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 positive change.”

The statement comes the same day as Floyd’s funeral in Houston. Floyd, who was black, was killed by a white police officer on May 25. Since then, protests have erupted across the country and several government officials have made commitments to adjust local laws. In New York, mayor Bill de Blasio said he will reallocate some New York Police Department funding to social and youth services.

Neither Tuesday’s statement from MSG, nor the social media accounts addresses what “positive change” the statement is referring to. The statement, which is not attributed to a specific person, was shared by the Rangers, Knicks, Rockettes and MSG official social media accounts.

Dolan faced backlash after his initial June 1 internal email that said, in part, “As companies in the business of sports and entertainment, however we are not any more qualified than anyone else to offer our opinion on social matters.”

Less than 24 hours after that email was made public, Dolan sent out another internal memo on June 2.

“My point yesterday was about actions, and the importance of living your values,” Dolan’s June 2 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.”

The June 2 email said that “vehemently condemn and reject racism against anyone, period” but did not commit to making a public statement. The Knicks’ position became murkier when the team’s official Instagram joined the social media movement, #BlackOutTuesday, on June 2. #BlackOutTuesday became an attempt to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement.

On behalf of the New York Knicks, Madison Square Garden and Dolan, a company spokesperson declined ESPN’s request for comment on the change of course.