Did the Knicks Protest Already Work?

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I know what you’re thinking: “There is no way a minor protest had anything to do with the biggest Knicks news in decades.”

You probably are even questioning why a protest will still go on being that a recent win streak and the soon to be official arrival of Phil Jackson changes the narrative surrounding the Knicks season.

A week ago on the KF4L Rally page, a message was posted stating

“Make no mistake about it: even if Phil Jackson were to take the offer and come to the Knicks, the protest WILL GO ON! One move is not convincing. Now that he’s making moves, we need to put pressure on Dolan to make sure he let’s Phil do his job.”

Last night after a congratulatory “Welcome to NY, Phil” message was posted an additional post was even more interesting:

Stephen a. Smith said today that Dolan does not want this protest to happen at MSG on March 19. Which is the idea behind holding the Phil Jackson press conference a day before. I guess we did get his attention.

This may seem evident that James Dolan withheld the official announcement of Phil Jackson this past week as a deliberate attempt to galvanize the media and bury whatever story a small band of protesters can elicit. However, ESPN LA’s Ramona Shelburne reports that Phil Jackson and the Knicks have been talking for months.

End of the protest theory right? Not so fast. I think there are some subtle signs that say otherwise.

Firstly, though everyone has known Mike Woodson is in his last year as coach, Dolan has been adamant on keeping the Woodson-Mills status quo in place for the entire season, even through the ugliest of times. His reluctance to shake things up and respond to the crisis on the court not only probably cost the Knicks a productive season, but it also has probably done some damage to the magnetism New York once brought to Carmelo Anthony. When the season was first beginning Melo talked about Knick championships. As the season comes to a close he still talks about championships, but has largely dropped the Knicks from being part of that equation. Due to Dolan’s stubborness, he may have inadvertently forced his prized possession out of town. If Dolan really has been speaking with Phil for months, you can’t help but ask where this urgency is coming from since he has shown the patience of a monk all year.

Secondly, earlier this week a random email to Knicks season ticket holders announced an impromptu celebration of “the Knicks being back from their west coast tour” scheduled at the same time (March 19, 6pm) as the actual Knicks protest. Other than the bizarreness of the Knicks showing they actually care about their fans, its even more strange since by the time the Knicks play on March 19, it would have been about two weeks since they even played on the westcoast. The haphazard staging of this rings as being something coming abruptly from the top because even the most junior of event planners would have thought of better messaging and planning than this. At the very least, we know it got his attention.

Dolan’s allergy to the media comes from a constant fear of looking like an oaf and time and time again it seems as something he specializes in. He has a hyper-sensitivity to what people think of him, which is the basis of his notorious Knicks media policy, and this protest is something that seems to have really got under his skin. Knick fans know how emotional Dolan is and the news of this protests is probably something he was really embarrassed about since it will be on the night the Knicks play against the best team in the east, the team that eliminated the Knicks from their first playoff run in years, and the team the last good President the Knicks had is now currently consulting with. Personally, I think Dolan was so enraged by the news of a protest that he took a couple of angry fans completely out of proportion and vowed to respond in a very public way.

Getting this deal done with Dolan is something that was probably more of a middle finger to the fans that wanted to embarrass him than suddenly having the clarity to want to fix the Knicks. Either way, these are hopeful times to be a Knicks fan so who cares the reasoning behind the timing? Phil has finally come home and thats all that counts.

What do you think?

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