Adrien WojnarowskiSenior NBA Insider3 minute read
Before launching an unorthodox lawsuit against the Toronto Raptors that includes allegations questioning the objectivity of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, New York Knicks owner James Dolan resigned from his position at the influential advisory/financial and media committees of the NBA Board of Governors, according to a memo obtained. by ESPN.
“Given everything that has happened recently, 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 29 other owners in the league.
Dolan also informed Silver and his peers of his intention to no longer attend board of governors meetings, according to the memo. Although Dolan did not waive voting rights for his franchise, he indicated he would look to Knicks general counsel Jamaal Lesane to represent the organization at BOG meetings, the memo said. That transition has happened, sources told ESPN.
“I hope the Knicks are treated equally and fairly like every other team in the NBA,” Dolan said in the memo. “…As you know, I am very busy with all of my roles within the MSG family of companies. I need to spend my time where I can be most productive.”
In two recent votes that were otherwise unanimous, Dolan voted against Michael Jordan’s sale of the Charlotte Hornets to the group led by Rick Schnall and Gabe Plotkin and the WNBA’s expansion to San Francisco, sources told ESPN .
Over the years, Dolan has become increasingly critical of the league and Silver on a number of issues, including the NBA’s revenue sharing system, sources told ESPN. Dolan expressed displeasure with elements of a system that forces big-market franchises such as the Knicks to share their significantly higher revenues with smaller-market teams.
In a court filing Monday, the Knicks said they were seeking more than $10 million in damages from the Raptors in a lawsuit alleging the theft of thousands of confidential files, and argued that Silver is not expected to arbitrate the dispute in part because of his close relationship with Raptors Governor Larry Tanenbaum.
The Knicks’ filing, obtained by ESPN’s Baxter Holmes, follows the Raptors’ Oct. 16 motion to dismiss the Knicks’ original complaint and have Silver arbitrate the dispute.
In Monday’s filing, the Knicks also argued that Tanenbaum’s position as chairman of the NBA Board of Governors would create a conflict of interest because “Tanenbaum is Silver’s boss and exercises control and strong influence the continuation of Silver’s employment and salary. Additionally, the Knicks highlighted a friendship between Silver and Tanenbaum.
Among other things, Tanenbaum was described as “a close ally of commissioner Adam Silver,” the Knicks wrote. “Silver himself described Tanenbaum as ‘not only my boss as chairman of the board of governors, but he is truly a role model in my life.’ If Silver were to preside over the current conflict, he would arbitrate a case for his boss and ally.”
The Knicks’ lawsuit hinges largely on a fairly standard practice among coaches and development staff who change positions: bringing with them files and notes on the various programs they implemented on previous teams .
ESPN’s Baxter Holmes and Seth Wickersham contributed to this report.
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