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How Many Different Ways Can James Dolan Tell Us He’s Sick Of This?

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Knicks owner James Dolan's chosen language is the blues, of course. But lately he's been finding ways to transmit his sorrow through legal and business channels. ESPN reported on Tuesday that Dolan had a little bit of a hissy fit about his standing among NBA owners. "Given all that has occurred lately, I have come to the conclusion that the NBA neither needs nor wants my opinion," Dolan reportedly wrote to the other 29 owners and commissioner Adam Silver in July. The memo said he would no longer attend NBA board of governors meetings—the Knicks' general counsel now represents him there instead—and had resigned from his positions on two committees dealing with media and advisory/finance. But he still hasn't relinquished his voting power, which he recently wielded to comic effect. Per ESPN, he was the sole holdout in two otherwise unanimous votes to approve Michael Jordan's sale of the Charlotte Hornets, and to expand the WNBA to San Francisco.

The sadboy-billionaire resignation memo is a rich text, but Dolan's moodiest move to date might still be the lawsuit filed in August against the Raptors, their parent company, new Raptors head coach Darko Rajaković, and a miscellany of Raptors staff. Those staffers include Ikechukwu Azotam, who was formerly the director of video, analytics, and player development for the Knicks before taking a job with Toronto in August. The alleged crime? Stealing proprietary Knicks secrets, described in the lawsuit as "scouting reports, play frequency reports, a prep book and a link to third-party licensed software." Reading between the lines a bit, it it sounds as if Azotam just brought some notes and clips from Synergy—a scouting and video platform used by many NBA front offices and NBA reporters—to his new job, where they also presumably pay for Synergy. (It must be said that forwarding the stuff directly to your new Raptors email is pretty stupid, but even then, your employer would have to reach a certain level of bored and petty to take it the court.) The concluding paragraph of today's Woj report veered into pure deadpan: "The Knicks' lawsuit is largely based on a fairly customary practice among coaches and development staff who change jobs: bringing with them files and notes on different programs they implemented as a part of previous teams."

In October, the Raptors called the suit a "public relations stunt," asked that it be dismissed, and that Adam Silver arbitrate the matter instead. But a court filing on Monday shows that the Knicks are refusing arbitration and still seeking over $10 million in damages from the Raptors. It also, rather spicily, calls into question the capacity of NBA commissioner to neutrally arbitrate the case at all, because of the relationship Silver has to Raptors owner Larry Tanenbaum. As the filing argues, in his capacity as chairman of the board of governors, Tanenbaum has a lot of leverage over Silver's employment and salary. They also point out how Silver has described Raptors owner Larry Tanenbaum: "Not just my boss as the chairman of the board of governors, but he’s very much a role model in my life."

These are the matters that occupy Dolan these days. I don't know about all this, man. You've got the Sphere now. And you look so happy in it. Isn't that more fun than pretending to care about Isaiah Hartenstein? Go hang out in the Sphere.

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