New York Knicks owner James Dolan had managed to take a back seat through much of his teams’ disastrous 10-41 (before Monday night’s game) season, having hired Phil Jackson to run the franchise with relative autonomy (except for vetoing a $24 million contract to Steve Kerr, who went to the now-first place Golden State Warriors over the summer). That was before Monday, when he responded to angry email by a lifelong Knick fan. As confirmed by ESPN.com, 73-year old Irving Bierman wrote the following email to Dolan:

“At one stage I thought that you did a wonderful thing when you acquired EVERYTHING from your dad. However, since then it has been ALL DOWN HILL. Your working with Isaiah Thomas & everything else regarding the Knicks. Bringing on Phil Jackson was a positive beginning, but low-balling Steve Kerr was a DISGRACE to the Knicks. The bottom line is that you merely continued to interfere with the franchise.”

“As a Knicks fan for in excess of 60 years, I am utterly embarrassed by your dealings with the Knicks. Sell them so their fans can at least look forward to growing them in a positive direction Obviously, money IS NOT THE ONLY THING. You have done a lot of utterly STUPID business things with the franchise. Please NO MORE. Respectfully, Irving Bierman.”

In response, Dolan sent this message back:

“Why would anybody write such a hateful letter? I am just guessing but I’ll bet your life is a mess and you are a hateful mess. What have you done that anyone would consider positive or nice? I am betting nothing. In fact I’ll bet you are negative force in everyone who comes in contact with you. You most likely have made your family miserable. Alcoholic maybe. I just celebrated my 21st year anniversary of sobriety. You should try it. Maybe it will help you become a person that folks would like to have around. In the mean while start rooting for the Nets because the Knicks don’t want you. Respectfully James Dolan.”

Now, if one listens to talk radio with any degree of regularity, they know that Mr. Bierman is NOT the first person to express an opinion of frustration with Dolan’s ownership and desire that he sell (which he never will), in truth this email is probably a lot more respectful than what can be heard on the airwaves. And with the Knicks’ season all but over, and the prospect of an extended rebuilding process if they are unable to add a few free agents this offseason, as well as the success the Warriors have had with Kerr as their coach, coming as it is after Phil Jackson was brought in to change the culture after an era of futility that has marred much of Dolan’s tenure as owner. The failed stay of Isaiah Thomas as general manager when he tried to build the franchise around Stephon Marbury and Eddy Curry (purging multiple first round draft picks in the process, picks that became LaMarcus Aldridge and Joakim Noah) and later coach. The sexual harassment lawsuit. His rumored meddling with then-team president Donnie Walsh when it came time to trade for Carmelo Anthony. If anything Dolan should have thicker skin for an owner who has seen his team accomplish so little during the better part of the last 15 years. At the very least, he shouldn’t be demeaning to those who still identify themselves as Knick fans during some of the worst seasons in franchise history. And for a self-professed recovering alcoholic, he should be embarrassed for not only broaching the subject, but belittling someone if they were to have the addiction. Dolan’s response does look like the latest embarrassment the Knicks organization has had to suffer through under his direction, and this is how he responds to his fans during a 10-41 season, why should they keep supporting his franchise at all?

The NBA will not punish Dolan for his email, if for no reason that no players or owners have been punished for derogatory tweets or emails sent to fans in the past, with Colorado Rockies owner Dick Monfort a recent example. But Dolan sends another bad message to his fan base with this incident; that he is every bit as arrogant or ignorant as most people think he is. But given what the product that he has put on his court since he took over, Dolan should be thankful his team still has a fan base, and realized that as owner, it is always wrong to attack the people who pay to see and support his franchise.

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