The New York Knicks may be one of the most popular franchises in all of sports, bu there’s no denying that they have had a pretty terrible past few years. It seems that they have forgotten how to win, and to make matters worse, the front office does not appear to be taking the right direction in terms of keeping the team afloat.
The Knicks are living in dark times right now, but based on their history, this is not the first time. In the past (some quite recently), this prestigious franchise have been at the center of some earth-shattering controversy. Below are some of the biggest scandals in New York Knicks history.
The Frozen Envelope
This one is considered by many as one of the biggest conspiracy theories in league history, and the Knicks are at the very thick of this contentious tale.
The year was 1985 and the biggest name on the drafte was Georgetown product Patrick Ewing. He was a shoo-in as the first overall pick of that class, and predictably, a lot of teams were hoping to bag the first pick in the lottery. One of those teams were the Knicks, but statistically, they did not have the biggest odds of winning the first pick.
This is where it gets juicy. Allegedly, then-league commissioner David Stern wanted Ewing to go to New York. It made sense. One of the biggest prospects in recent history going to a big-market team like the Knicks — it would boost the NBA’s revenues significantly.
During the actual lottery, rumor has it that New York’s envelope was frozen. That is, it had a small fold that allowed Stern to identify it, so that he would be able to pick the Knicks “randomly.”
Ewing did go to the Knicks and had a tremendous career in New York. This conspiracy theory was never proven, but it is worth noting that the league subsequently shifted to ping-pong balls to replace the envelopes during lottery draws.
Isiah Thomas Sex Scandal
As a player, Isiah Thomas had a decorated, Hall of Fame 12-year career with the Detroit Pistons. The same cannot be said, however, about his time as the President for Basketball Operations for the Knicks.
Thomas was the team’s head honcho between 2003 and 2008, and to say that he had a miserable tenure would be an understatement. The Knicks were a mess when Thomas was at the helm, but what defined his time as the team’s president was his embarrassing sexual harassment scandal.
In 2006, a former female executive named Anucha Browne Sanders alleged that Thomas acted inappropriately around her in the workplace during her time with the Knicks. To make matters worse, Thomas allegedly fired her the moment he found out that she had filed a complaint with the company’s HR department. Sanders filed a lawsuit against Thomas, which was ceventually settled for $11.5 million.
Charles Oakley vs. James Dolan
For the Knicks faithful, one of, if not the biggest reason behind the team’s current misery lies with team owner James Dolan. He has been heavily criticized for how his actions (and at times inaction) have had an adverse effect on the overall stature of the team. Perhaps the biggest controversy involving Dolan was his fiasco with Knicks legend Charles Oakley.
In 2017, Oakley was ejected by security officials during a Knicks game for allegedly taunting Dolan. Oakley was not pleased about being accosted, and things almost turned violent. Oakley was subsequently banned from the Madison Square Garden, and this incident resulted in a lengthy court battle between the two parties.
Knicks Take on Spike Lee
Another infamous Dolan incident involves one of the team’s most prominent fans in Spike Lee. Around three years after the Oakley incident, Dolan decided to take on the Oscar-winning director, who himself was a known critic of the team owner.
The story goes that Knicks security prevented Lee from entering the arena using the employee entrance, which he had been using for the past two decades. Team personnel wanted him to take a different entrance tat turned out to be two blocks away. Rumor has it that it was Dolan who gave the order to deny Lee’s entry completely, and that the entrance narrative was some form of cover up.
Lee was predictably unhappy with the incident, and claimed that he was harassed. The superfan went public, and even went on the record that he was “done” with the Knicks — for that season at least. Not only did Dolan butt heads with a Knicks legend in Oakley, but he also thought that it was a good idea to wield his power against one of the team’s most popular and well-loved fans.