Caron Butler rebukes James Dolan over lack of public statement

Knicks owner James Dolan has made a lot of bad basketball decisions in running a club that has missed the playoffs seven straight seasons. But in a twist, Dolan is facing accusations of racial insensitivity despite his extensive history of hiring African-American basketball executives.

Caron Butler, the former NBA standout and now a Wizards broadcaster, unleashed on Dolan for being the owner of the only NBA team that did not issue a statement or have its head coach speak out on racial justice in the aftermath of George Floyd’s police-related death.

Butler insinuated the Knicks’ black players could have a tough time giving their full effort to the team. Sixteen of the Knicks’ 17 players are black.

“It’s like every opportunity or chance that Mr. Dolan get a chance to do something right, it’s almost like he goes out of his way to do the opposite,’’ Butler said in an interview by Alex Kennedy of Hoopshype. “That probably works in a business space when you disturb the market. But this is not a business space. This is a humane thing. He made a bad decision not keeping up on it. I don’t know what he did privately, but you should take a stance on what’s right or wrong.”

Last week, ESPN reported some Knicks players and employees were “furious” Dolan elected not to issue a public statement.

“I know a lot of players are like, ‘How can I run through a brick wall for this organization and understand and know my rights probably don’t matter to his individual,’” Butler said. “It’s an eye opener to a lot of people.

“It’s going to be different going forward. If you didn’t stand on the side of rights and justice you will be looked at differently.”

Dolan sent an email to employees last week explaining the decision, acknowledging the severity of the issue but writing, “we are not any more qualified than anyone else to offer our opinion on social matters.”

Dolan received heat over the stance, when some employees held a video conference call about the issue. That prompted a second email condemning racism in stronger terms but still was not released publicly. However, the Knicks’ Instagram account supported the Blackout Tuesday movement.

“At end of the day, your legacy is extremely important,” Butler continued. “People remember you from your good deeds and what you did for mankind. To say nothing in one of the biggest moments I think in our lifetime that we’ve been able to experience and rally around and have a hand in and be part of, to be absence in that moment, that tells you a lot.”

Two years ago, Dolan assembled the first-ever all-black president-GM tandem in Steve Mills and Scott Perry. The Knicks’ top five front-office executives were black before Mills’ February firing.