In the summer of 1906, architect Stanford White was murdered on the roof of the second Madison Square Garden, a building he designed, by millionaire Harry Kendall Thaw, almost certainly because he had been fucking Thaw's wife. The ensuing Trial of the Century—actually protracted into two separate trials over nine years—saw the defense get Thaw declared legally insane and committed to an institution before immediately motioning to have him re-declared sane and free; a high-end New York City madame testify that Thaw terrorized her girls emotionally and physically, introducing a "jeweled whip" as evidence; those girls being paid off by Thaw not to testify; Thaw's daring escape from his asylum, aided by his mother, with whom he was notoriously close, and, after literally breaking out of jail, his eventual acquittal of all charges in 1915.

You might be imagining James Dolan here, lying dead atop the arena at 33rd and 7th, at the feet of a Knicks fan pushed exactly one Smith brother too far. There would at least be a cause-and-effect that onlookers could understand, if not condone—it would make a certain amount ofNo jury would convict-type sense. But we live in a universe of chaos, and James Dolan is chief among its agents. What is causality to a man who doesn't believe in the natural order of things, like human aging? That's him standing on the roof of the Garden, two middle fingers raised at people dumb enough to think they can touch him; him there at the center of the biggest, noisiest circus-orgy in town. Within sports, Dolan is the Harry Kendall Thaw of our time—unimpeachable, unprosecutable, un-fucking-dying—a great American villain, like Magneto, Bernie Madoff, or Jeffrey Dahmer. White's corpse may as well be a burning pile of unsold Linsanity merch.

Dolan's confounding proclivities for expensive, aging players and expensive, suspect coaches for them to undermine are too well known and numerous to bear accounting here, as are MSG's clandestinemedia policies, which you imagine are his best attempt at gating himself up in Xanadu, mumbling the name of whatever high-usage, volume-scoring wing player he must have had as a kid. He's an unstable asshole, but most of us have learned to laugh at the joke. The real issue is that he's so damn vital, in every sense. He's too young and healthy to retire or die off, too rich and powerful to rein in or depose. The crazy fuck holds a lifetime appointment to drown some large part of the city's identity in the cold, shit-filled Hudson, winter after winter. He is a crotchful of genital warts. He is a perpetual tax on the morale of our nation's biggest metropolis.

Less than a year after he was released, Harry Thaw assaulted a damn teenager, bribed the kid into silence, served a few years in jail, and was eventually set back free into the world. That's how the too-powerful exist, unfettered by law or reason or decency or a cursory understanding of modern NBA luxury tax mechanics. Free to run amok and free to do as they want, because there's no reason to do otherwise. Until the day they drop dead.

Advertisement