A battle of words has erupted between Mort Zuckerman, the editor of the New York Daily News, and Jim Dolan, president and chief executive of Cablevision and chairman of the Madison Square Garden Company, over insinuations that the New York Knicks were intentionally mum regarding the severity of star Jeremy Lin’s knee injury in a quest to drive up play-off ticket sales.
In a New York Daily News article, published April 2, 2012, writer Frank Isola claimed that the New York Knicks organization knew that its star point guard Jeremy Lin had suffered a potentially season-ending meniscus tear in his knee and intentionally failed to reveal this information to the public until after the March 28, 2012 deadline for season-ticket holders to purchase play-off tickets. Isola insinuates in the article that this decision was made, at least in part, for the Knicks to further capitalize on “Linsanity,” and cash in on higher play-off ticket sales.
For anyone who has not been following the NBA this season, “Linsanity” is the term coined to describe the overwhelming swell of publicity that followed Jeremy Lin’s debut as the starting point guard of the New York Knicks this past February. A 2010 graduate of Harvard University, Lin spent a disappointing year and a half in the NBA and the NBA Development League before rising to fame for leading the Knicks on a seven game winning streak.
Linsanity began to wane as the season continued and the Knicks’ winning streak came to an end. On March 24, 2012, Lin reported that he was suffering from knee pain, which was later diagnosed as a meniscus tear that would require surgery. The Knicks did not announce the official diagnosis until March 31, three days after the March 28 deadline for season-ticket holders to purchase play-off tickets. Currently, Lin’s return date is unknown, but reports indicate that it is unlikely to occur before the second round of the play-offs.
The recent article in the New York Daily News, which sparked the war of words between Zuckerman and Dolan, indicated that the Knicks knew about the severity of the tear on March 26. Isola, the article’s author, told WFAN that he wrote the article simply to put the information out there, not to suggest that the Knicks were intentionally trying to mislead fans.
“I’m putting it out there so people can make their own conclusions about it,” said Isola. “Do I think that played into it on some level? Absolutely, for probably the marketing department ticketing.”
However, Dolan and Cablevision believe that something more insidious was at work when the article in question was published in the Daily News. A statement issued by Cablevision and The Madison Square Garden Company, the owner of the New York Knicks, denied the accusations contained within the article and stated that the Daily News’ recent coverage of the Knicks was the equivalent of “a campaign of intimidation and extortion to affect a merger between Newsday and the Daily News.” Newsday is owned by Cablevision.
Cablevision also indicated that Zuckerman and the Daily News have “made repeated overtures to Mr. Dolan and his executives to combine the operations with joint ownership and shared printing and editorial expenses. This proposal was rejected multiple times.” Furthermore, Cablevision stated that Zuckerman told Dolan at a lunch on March 6, 2012 lunch at the Four Season that “[t]he bad press would end if we became joint owners.”
Cablevision has not released any additional statements regarding the incident, but the Daily News’ editor in chief Colin Myler issued a statement saying that “the Jeremy Lin column in today’s Daily News has been totally misrepresented by Mr. Dolan . . . We will continue to report, as always, in a fair and independent editorial manner.”
This latest dust up between the Zuckerman and Dolan is not the first. Prior to the April 2, 2012 article, an article running on the front page of the Daily News on March 15, 2012 contained a headline of “Toxic,” with a sub-headline asking “So now who’s nuts enough to coach for Dolan.” With tensions continuing to remain high following the controversial article, it is unlikely this will be the last chapter in the war of words between Zuckerman and Dolan.