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The NBA is Back! Sorry Knicks Fans

ROBBINS NEST

By Lenn Robbins

05/31/13 tulsa shock vs ny liberty at prudential center newark nj liberty lead 37-29 at the half owner james dolan at the game tonite Neil Miller/The New York Extra/TheNYExtra,com copyright 2020

Basketball is back.

Never have those three words been more joyous to write.

Basketball is back.

The NBA approved a resumption of the season with a target date of July 31st. The NBA Players Association is scheduled to approve the restart plan during a virtual conference call on Friday morning according to published reports.

July  31st!

Since March 11th, the day the coronavirus forced the most harrowing league-clock violation in NBA history, we have been left with replays, Top 10 lists and the Michael Jordan biopic, “The Last Dance.”

Sadly, today is not a joyful one for Knicks fans, but then again, most days during the NBA season are lacking in positive experience. The Knicks, along with the Hawks, Cavs, Warriors, Timberwolves, Pistons, Bulls and Hornets, will not resume play under the 22-team format.

Those teams comprise the Golfer’s Bracket. Steph Curry can start practicing with Phil Mickelson now.

The draft lottery will be held August 25th and the draft itself on October 15th according to published reports. Knicks fans can remain in quarantine and not risk missing anything. Yes, even on a day of good news, it’s hard to be a Knicks fan.

There is a lot of to be done before we can embrace returning to The Garden, with masks on our faces instead of bags over our heads

A coach needs to be found. A logical and realistic rebuilding plan needs to be implemented. James Dolan, the owner who didn’t see the value of making a statement on the most recent senseless murder of a black man, should remain in a silent vacuum.

The first order of business for Knicks fans should be to find which horse to back in the playoffs, an annual rite. I’m going with the Trail Blazers. It would be epic to see Rip City celebrate, Damian Lillard has been working on a four-point shot, and maybe Weber State will reproduce his No.1 jersey.

These are as good reasons to pick a winner as any in a season that will play out like no other.

If Giannis wins MVP, was it because LeBron didn’t have enough time to close the season on some mortal-defying run before he turns 36 or will the Greek Freak rise to new heights?

Can the Raptors, arguably the most dismissed NBA champion since the 1975 Golden State Warriors, repeat? If they do, will be considered a tainted repeat, which is ridiculous.

Will we get to see to the Lakers and Clippers do battle? Should Nets fans stick to NBA 2K and enjoy a fantasy in which Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are healthy?

Zion Williamson! Good Lord, we get to see the sneaker-ripping manchild play when he’s not answering questions about how he got all his sneakers to go to Duke. Wonder if RJ Barrett will be pulled into this investigation? Of course, he will. He plays for the Knicks.

Will any player still need load management?

Ah! Basketball is back.

Never have those three words been more joyful to write. Unless of course you bleed orange and blue and your psyche is black and blue. Then today is sad day. And July 31st will be worse.

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This day in Sports, April 24th, by Neil Miller/The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com

tampa bay vs devils devils win 3-0 #alexander svitov takes down #25 niewendyke,leading to a powerplay on which the devils scored their second goal, Neil Miller/Ther New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com copyright 2020
eli manning displays giants uniform after being traded form the chargers to the giants today/NeilMiller/The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com copyright 2020
4/24/05 Washington Nationals Vs. New York Mets @ Shea Stadium: Mets #20 Victor Diaz reacts after striking out early on in the game. Neil Miller/The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com copyright 2020
04/24/09 new york rangers vs washington capitals @ verizon center washington dc eastern conference quarter finals game #5: rangers lose 4-0 #40 simeon varlamov makes a save in the 3rd period tonight Neil Miller/The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com copyright 2020
04/24/10 Atlanta Braves Vs. New York Mets Mets Ike Davis scores on an RBI double by Jeff Francoeur in the 7th inning. Neil Miller/The NewYork Extra/TheNYExtra.com copyright 2020
04/24/11 Boston Celtics Vs. New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden, Eastern Conference Quarter Finals game #4 knicks #7 carmelo anthony scores a basket thru the defense of #8 jeff green in the 4th quarter Neil Miller/The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com copyright 2020
04/24/11 Boston Celtics Vs. New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden, Eastern Conference Quarter Finals game #4 Spike lee before today’s game. Neil Miller/The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com copyright 2020
4/24/14 St. Louis Cardinals Vs.New York Mets at Citi Field: New York Mets third baseman David Wright #5 flies out during the first inning. Neil Miller/The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com copyright 2020

This day in sports April 14th, Neil Miller, The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com

tampa bay vs islanders tampa wins in a second straight shut out by #35khabibulin here stopping a late 3 rd period chance by #21 czerkawski/ Neil Miller /The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com copyright 2020
4/14/05 Houston Astros Vs. New York Mets @ Shea Stadium: Mets #20 Victor Diaz hits a double in the 7th inning. Neil Miller/The New York Extra/The NYExtra.com copyright 2020
4/14/06 – Milwaukee Brewers Vs. New York Mets @ Shea Stadium : Mets relief pitcher #50 Duaner Sanchez pumps his fist after getting out of a jam in the 7th inning. Neil Miller/The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com copyright 2020
4/14/07 Washington Nationals Vs. New York Mets @ Shea Stadium Mets trail 2-0 after 1 1/2 #26 orlando hernadez pitches in the 1st inning Neil Miller/The ew York Extra/ThenYExtra.com copyright 2020
4/14/09 San Diego Padres Vs. New York Mets at Citi Field Opening Day: A cat runs on field near homeplate in last nites game Neil Miller/The New York Extra/The NYExtra .com copyright 2020
04/14/10 philadelphia flyers vs nj devils at prudential center newark nj stanley cup eastern conference quarterfinals flyers 2-1 #30 marty brodeur almost has a 3rd goal go behind him on thes shot by #28 claude giroux in the 3rd period Neil Miller The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com copyright 2020
04/14/11 ny rangers vs washington capitals verizon center washington dc eastern conference quarterfinals rangers warm up at practice Neil Miller The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com copyright 2020
04/14/12 Stanley Cup Eastern Conference quarter finals game #2 Ottawa Senators Vs. New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden- New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist #30 looks behind him as the winning goal scored by Ottawa Senators right wing Chris Neil #25 gets behind him in ot Neil Miller/The New York Extra/ThenYExtra.com copyright 2020
4/14/13 Indiana Pacers Vs. New York Knicks: New York Knicks shooting guard J.R. Smith #8 goes up for a shot during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Neil Miller/The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com copyright 2020
04/14/18 Milwaukee Brewers vs New York Mets at citifield queens ny New York Mets starting pitcher Matt Harvey #33 in the dugout after the end of the 5th innning Neil Miller/The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com copyright 2020

This day in Sports ,April 12th, by Neil Miller/The New York Extra/The NYExtra.com

raptors vs nets nets lead 58-45 after the first half #55 Mutombo slams one in during the first half Neil Miller/The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com copyright 2020
tampa bay vs islanders tampa leaqds 2-0 after 1 period/#13 kubina pushes #38 scatchard into goalie #35 khabbibulin in the 1st period Neil Miller/The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com copyright 2020
4/12/05 Toronto Raptors Vs. New York Knicks @ Msg : Knicks #3 Stephon Marbury drives to the basket as Raptors #24 Morris Peterson. tries to guard in the third quarter Neil Miller/The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com copyright 2020
4/12/06 – Kansas City Royals Vs. New York Yankees @ Yankee Stadium : Yankees starting pitcher #39 Shawn Chacon delivers in the first inning. Neil Miller/The new York extra/The NYExtra.com copyright 2020
4/12/07 New York Mets vs Philadelphia Phillies @ Shea Stadium: Mets Jose Reyes hits two run single in the 5th inning for the game tying and go ahead runs. Neil Miller/The New York extra/TheNYExtra.com copyright 2020
04/12/08 Milwaukee Brewers Vs. New York Mets @ Shea Stadium. neil miller: Mets starting pitcher Johan Santana delivers in the first inning. Neil Miller/The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com copyright 2020
04/12/09 boston bruins Vs. New York Islanders @ nassau coliseum uniondale ny islanders trail 2-0 afer 1 period of play #30 tim thomas makes a save on #15 jeff tambellini in the 1st period Neil Miller/The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com copyright 2020
04/12/10 charlootte bobcats Vs. New Jersey Nets at the Izod Center. East Rutherford NJ last game in izod center #6 courtney lee gets past #42 theo ratliff for a basket in the 1st half Neil Miller/The New York Extra/The NYExtra.com copyright 2020
04/012/10 ny yankees workout day view of demo of old yankee stadium from new park Neil Miller/The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com copyright 2020
04/12/11 colorado rockies Vs. New York Mets at Citi Field stormy skies over citi field before the game tonite Neil Miller/The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com copyright 2020
04/12/16 Miami Marlins vs N.Y.Mets at Citi Field Queens n.y. score tied 1-1 during the 4th innning New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard #34 pitches in the 3rd innning Neil Miller/The New York Extra/ThneNYExtra.com copyright 2020

This day in Sports, April 8th,by Neil Miller The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com

04/08/04 devils vs flyers #15 lagenbrunner celebrates a #16 hrdina Neil Miller/The NY Extra/TheNYExtra.com copyright 2020
04/08/05 #3 Stephan Marbury was high man for both teams tonight with 29 pts Neil Miller/The New York Extra/The NYExtra.com copyright 2020
04/08/06 capitols vs islanders uniondale ny#39 Rick Dipietro makes save in the 2nd period Neil Miller/The New York Extra/The NYExtra.com copyright 2020
04/08/07 Baltimore Orioles Vs. New York Yankees @ Yankee Stadium Yankees Andy Pettitte delivers in the 6th inning as a relief pitcher. Neil Miller/The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com copyright 2020
04/08/12 Chicago Bulls Vs. New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony #7 reacts after hitting the game winning three point shot to defeat the Bulls 100-99 in overtime. Neil Miller/The New York extra/TheNYExtra.com copyright 2020

This day in Sports

A new series of photographs by the staff of the New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com

04/03/17 Atlanta Braves vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens NY/ photos by Neil Miller/The New York Extra New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard #34 pitches in the 3rd innning
04/03/11 Cleveland Caverliers Vs. New YorkKnicks at Madison Square Garden, Neil Miller The New York Extra Knicks Carmelo Anthony goes up for a shot during the first quarter.
04/03/11 Cleveland Caverliers Vs. New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden, Neil Miller The New York Extra Knicks / Amar’e Stoudemire rebounds the ball as Cavs Baron Davis tries to steal it during the third quarter.
04/03/11 Detroit Tigers Vs. New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium Neil Miller /The New York Extra/ Yankees relief pitcher Joba Chamberlain bites his glove after giving up a run in the 9th inning
04/03/11 Detroit Tigers Vs. New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium Neil Miller/The New York Extra/ Yankees Mark Teixeira is greeted in the dugout by his teammates after he scores on his solo homer in the third inning.
04/03/13 Pittsburgh Penguins vs ny rangers at msg neil miller New York Rangers lead 3-0 after 1 period of play New York Rangers right wing Ryan Callahan #24 tries to get around Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Chris Kunitz #14 during a Pittsburgh Penguins powerplay in the 1st period
04/03/12 New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center Philadelphia PA Neil Miller/The New York Extra Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen #44 checks New York Rangers right wing Marian Gaborik #10 during the third period. The Rangers defeated the Flyers.

Get Well Soon, Mr. Dolan; Then Sell the Knicks

ROBBINS NEST

By Lenn Robbins

File Photo Neil Miller/The New York Extra/The NYExtra.com

The most disliked man in metropolitan area sports has tested positive for the most insidious virus in most of our lifetimes. James Dolan, owner of the Knicks, Rangers and The Garden, became one of about 60,000 New Yorkers to have contracted this disease.  That number grows as I type.

It is not some karmic justice that Dolan has COVID-19. It’s a sad, unfortunate coincidence.

Some feeble-minded fans have taken to social media, which at times serves as the cesspool of society, to express their glee. Which means this is an ideal opportunity for a COVID-19 realty checkpoint.

This consists of my knowledge of this coronavirus: It has no agenda but to thrive, which means finding as much sweat, saliva spit and snot as possible and hitch a ride from person to person. It does not ask for, or even has any interest in, a person’s ID – rich, poor, tall, short, white, black, blue collar, white collar, no collar.

It has no conscience. Neither do some Dolan haters.

If you’ve visited this space you know we have no love lost for Dolan. We’ve asked Knicks fans to boycott. When that didn’t have the desired effect, we suggested fans appeal to Dolan’s love of the Knicks and try to convince him to sell for the good of the team. That, too, has not succeeded.

We will continue to try to be an agent for change.

In fact, we think the sooner he sells the Knicks, the quicker the team’s fans and, possible Dolan himself, will find happiness. He can enjoy their future success just like any other fan.

But only someone lacking in soul, like the virus itself, wants to see real harm come to Dolan. He is, after all, a husband, father of five, son, musician and absolutely incompetent owner when it comes to the Knicks.

Yet on the same day that the Knicks announced on Twitter that Dolan had tested positive it was reported by The New York Post that the owner had established The MSG Relief Fund to keep paying venue employees at least through May 3. Initially funded with a $1 million donation from the Madison Square Garden company and matched by the Dolan Family Foundation and a $300,000 from the MSG team.

I couldn’t care less if this is all one big tax deduction. It’s a right thing to do and Dolan did it.

Look, it’s fine to find some humor in this coronavirus plague. Humor is good medicine. Trevor Noah’s joke, that even COVID-19 doesn’t want anything to do with the Knicks, is true comedy.  So is his mission to make Social Distancing an Olympic sport.

When it comes to feeling happy that Dolan has the virus takes away our essence as humans, which just might be COVID-19’S end game. Here’s our message to Mr. Dolan:

Get well soon. Then sell the team.

HIS BEST ASSIST: Former Knicks point guard and Coney Island native Stephan Marbury is trying to secure the purchase of 10 million N95 masks for hospital workers and first responder. After a 14-year career in the NBA, Marbury’s professional and financial careers got huge boosts in the Chinese Basketball Association.

Marbury teamed with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams to help with delivery arrangements. Marbury reportedly will purchase the masks at cost ($2.75) as opposed to $7.50 retailers have been trying to rip off the city.

 “At the end of the day, I am from Brooklyn,” Marbury told The Post in a telephone interview from his home in Beijing. “This is something that is close and dear to my heart as far as being able to help New York.”

The Knicks Spike Lee and I Grew Up No Longer Exist

Every day it becomes harder and harder to remember the last time the Knicks made for good news. It has little to do with losing.

Spike Lee /File photo/Neil Miller/The New York Extra /copyright 2020

The 76ers took losing to a new tank high. The Cavaliers contributed to Cleveland’s moniker as the Mistake on the Lake. The Charlotte Bobcats once won seven games.

Losing happens. Losing as a corporate environment shouldn’t.

File photo /James Dolan ?Neil Miller/ The New York Extra/copyright 2020

Which brings us to James Dolan. Under his ownership, The Garden and the Knicks have gone from a storied franchise that plays in The World’s Most Famous Arena to a sullied team that competes in building run by an Undercover Paranoid Boss.

Spike Lee and I hail from the same borough (his family moved to Brooklyn when he was a child). He attended Dewey High School. I attended Canarsie.

File photo/Spike Lee at Yankee Stadium /Neil Miller/The New York Extra /copyright 2020

He’s 62. I’m 60. We’re of the same Knicks generation, the one fortunate enough to be in our formative fans years when the Knicks raised their only two NBA Championship banners to The Garden rafters.

We were raised on Red Holzman’s thinking man’s basketball.

None of us will forget that magical night when Willis Reed limped out of the tunnel, drained his first two shots, and Clyde Frazier turned in the greatest performance in Game 7 history. But most forget that every starter on that 1969-70 team averaged at least 10 points and two assists in the regular season.

Spike was the guy from Brooklyn who made it big. That’s what those front row Knicks tickets represent, more than his success as a director. Occasionally we would exchange a nod and quick handshake. Thank goodness for a press pass or I would never have gotten within two levels of Spike.

Of course, there was no social media and no smartphones back then when pickup basketball was the city game and we believed more titles were to come. We were naïve. Not we’re broken. Spike temporarily broken.

The Knicks have been reduced to a soap opera, The Garden as the set on which the segments are filmed.

Charles Oakley fights with Msg security/Neil Miller/The New York Extra/copyright 2020

If Dolan isn’t feuding with former players (Charles Oakley) he’s feuding with teenage fans and now he’s feuding with the most fanatical A-list fan any team in sports has known.

Spike is to us what Jack Nicholson is to the Lakers and a less subdued Drake is to the Raptors. Nicholson’s presence in the Forum has never been a distraction and, if Drake can just stop trying to run huddles, he can continue in his role as self-designated celebrity super fan.

Spike? Spike never was the story, with the exception of one epic exchange in 1995 with Reggie Miller. Heck, if Reggie, who scored eight points in the final 18.7 seconds of a Game 1 playoff game, can’t get under your skin, no one can. That’s a compliment.

Now Spike and Dolan are the story. It matters little who is right or wrong in Monday night’s EntranceGate blowup. It’s the pettiness. The constant siren of pettiness that sounds from The Garden and his heard around the NBA world.

Dolan is the common denominator in all of these petty episodes. The man with enough money to own the most valuable NBA franchise can’t buy himself a healthy sense of self.

The slightest perceived offense triggers some insecure fight response from Dolan. It’s as if he’s never outgrown that 10-year-old, “You started it! No, you started it!” phase.

Dolan announced the hiring of Leon Hall as the Knicks president on Monday morning. Dolan has been quick to remind us that he leaves the business of basketball in the expert’s hands. This way when Phil Jackson or Steve Mills falters, Dolan has his fall guy.

It can’t be his fault. But it is. Free agents know it is. Current players know it is. Current and former coaches know it is.

Makes you wonder if Rose checked the small print in his contract for an out clause. Makes you wonder if Spike will return next season. Makes you wonder if we should too.

Because these are not the Knicks Spike and I grew up on. This is not thinking man’s basketball.

Once Again, Knicks Fans Are Asked to be Patient

ROBBINS NEST

By Lenn Robbins

   Former player agent Leon Rose was officially hired Monday as the president of the Knicks president. As was the case with his most predecessors – Steve Mills and Phil Jackson – Rose asked Knicks fans for patience.

These are Rose’s words:

Nothing about this is easy, or quick, so I ask for your continued patience. What I promise you in return is that I will be honest and forthright. We will develop a plan that makes sense, both to jumpstart our short-term grow and ensure our long-term success. Our team will work hard, stick together and ensure we live up to the honor of wearing the New York Knicks jersey.

This is what Mills had to say after last year’s draft:

I think we’re asking them to continue to be patient. We laid out a plan when Scott [Perry] came on board and then David [Fizdale] joined us that we were gonna build this team the right way. We we’re going to draft well and we’re gonna be diligent about how we make this team and not taken any shortcuts.

And here is the Zenmaster prior to the 2015 draft:

We have a clear plan and expect our efforts to really take shape as we enter the 2015 draft and free agency in the months ahead. I ask that you remain optimistic and hope you will join us in our continued journey as we build a team that once again reflects the spirit of being a New York Knick.

With each regime, this plea for patience gets a little more galling. it’s been almost half a century since a Knicks championship banner was raised in The Garden. Half. A. Century.

Meanwhile, smart rebuilds are taking place all over the NBA map in places much less glamorous than the Big Apple such as Memphis, New Orleans and Oklahoma City. The Thunder have been gutted more thoroughly than all the fish in Greenport yet they have two first-round draft choices in each of the next five drafts. Five!

During this time, it’s hard to imagine another fan base more patient, supportive and perpetually hopeful than Knicks fans. They embraced Frank Ntilinka (Jackson) Kevin Knox (Mills).

There are many NBA executives that say Dolan dearly wants the Knicks to be good. They point to the $60 million he gave Jackson, hoping the extraordinary coach could make the transition to elite execute. He couldn’t.

Dolan tried the tandem of Mills and Scott Perry, hoping they could parlay their good standing in the NBA into bonanza free agent signings. They didn’t.

Now he has gone with the former agent, Rose. Those who know him say he’s sincere and his desire to make the Knicks a premier franchise is genuine. He deserves the benefit of any doubt.

We just have one piece of advice:

Don’t ask these fans to be patient. They could write the book on it.

A Good Day For the Knicks? Yes!

ROBBINS NEST

By Lenn Robbins

It comes with an understandably fair bit of trepidation for any Knicks fan embrace what just occurred on February 6, 2020. There have been so many horrific trades and free agents busts that just the thought of the Knicks making a deal is enough to trigger deep breathing exercises.

But this time the president-less Knicks made what seems to be a slam dunk transaction, sending veteran forward Marcus Morris to the Clippers in exchange for former St. John’s star and Queens native Moe Harkless, a 2020 first round pick and a 2nd-round pick.

The happiest man might be Leon Rose who reportedly will be hired as franchise’s next prez. He gets another first-round and second-round pick and a talented 26-year-old forward with upside.

The Knicks traded away a very solid player and person in Morris, who is 30 and a free agent after the season. But a first round pick and a younger forward that could start immediately at the 3 is a win-win. Morris goes to a playoff-bound team.

Good for him. Good for New York.

The Knicks now have two 1st-round picks in 2020 and two second-round picks, courtesy of the Willie Hernangomez trade. The Knicks have two first round picks in 2021, courtesy of the Kristaps Porzingis trade.

After his rookie season, we railed that The Unicorn was not a foundation player to build a champion around. Every month that belief gets reinforced. He continues to be physically fragile, not necessarily his fault, and is one of the most narcissistic players to come out of Europe, which is his fault.

The Knicks also have another 2nd-round pick in 2021 as part of Hernangomez deal. They’ll have two first-rounds picks in 2023, when the second pick from Dallas for KP arrives.

One of the only smart, no less sane thoughts to come out of The Garden of late regarding the Knicks is a commitment to hoard No.1 picks. This becomes even more prescient with the expected decreases in the salary cap and luxury-tax threshold.

Add in these assets with Rose and here’s where it gets a little scary: A hoard of draft picks combined with an elite agent. Do we dare get excited? Yes!

Look at what former agents turned executives Bob Myers did in Golden State and Rob Pelinka has done with the Lakers. This doesn’t mean Rose is a slam dunk. Myers learned the ropes from Larry Riley and Pelinka sat at the knee of Magic Johnson. That’s like getting tutored by Newton in physics.

Rose, however, will have GM Steve Perry to bounce ideas. Since Rose has yet to be officially hired and Steve Mills thankfully is no longer at the controls, we can credit today’s trade to Perry.

There’s another reason to feel good about this day and that is Rose. He might be able to get a table at Rao’s these days but not because his father handed him a fortune and said, ‘Go Forth and Double the Family Fortune.’

He’s a South Jersey guy who got degrees at Dickinson College, a cool liberal arts school, and at Temple law, in the heart of blue collar Philly. His first job was as an assistant prosecutor in Camden County, which has never been dubbed the vacation capital of the New Jersey. His first clients were Philly guys such as Lionel Simmons and Rick Brunson.

The only damper on the day was owner James Dolan’s decision to issue the following statement:

“We are actively looking for a new President of the New York Knicks and hope to conclude the search as quickly as possible,” he said. “I am not selling, but I am determined to find the right leader for the Knicks who will ensure the long-term success of the team, just as we did with the hiring of Rangers President John Davidson.”

If Dolan won’t sell, maybe he won’t meddle. In that case, maybe the record will show that February 6, 2020 was the best day Knicks fans had in a long time.