James Dolan hired consulting firm that caused confusion, paranoia among Carmelo Anthony-led Knicks
New York Knicks owner James Dolan took a puzzling decision in the midst of the 2013-14 season. Besides the trade that brought in Italian export Andrea Bargnani and an injury to a then-reigning Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler, who missed nearly 30 games due to injury — the hiring of a consulting firm ultimately set a Carmelo Anthony-led locker room aflame with confusion and paranoia.
McKinsey & Company, a worldwide management consulting firm hired by Madison Square Garden to work with the Knicks and the New York Rangers, was one that had a negative impact on the coaching staff and created consternation among the players.
The firm would influence decisions like not having coaches watch film with players as customary and filling out obnoxious amounts of paperwork, as Mike Woodson’s former assistant coach Dave Hopla told SNY’s Ian Begley.
“We got so fed up with them,” Hopla said of McKinsey & Company, noting the firing of GM Glen Grunwald soon after the firm was hired, which suggested some level of influence on the decision.
Current president of basketball operations Steve Mills can consequently hired to take Grunweld’s spot. The timing of that move stunned Hopla and other coaches, coming only days before the start of the 2013-14 season.
“(The season) just started out in a tailspin,” said Hopla.
At one point, the consulting agency advised coaches to stop watching film with players at one point during the year — a request that only raised questions among Knicks players.
“The players were like, ‘Why aren’t we watching film?’ (We said), ‘the McKinsey group told us,’ ” Hopla recalled.
The consultants also told members of the coaching staff to fill out paperwork documenting how players performed during their workouts, a process Hopla felt was time-consuming and unnecessary.
“I told them if we took all that time writing reports and we actually worked the players out, we would have made the playoffs,” Hopla said.
It didn’t take long before members of the firm appeared in practices and even on the road, raising suspicion among players.
“The players started asking who they were,” Hopla said. “…. They were worried about maybe they were writing reports about them. They were paranoid.”
Hopla questioned why a firm without prior experience in professional basketball was allowed to meddle in how Knicks coaches approached aspects of their jobs — jobs most of them had been doing for most of their lives.
“If the McKinsey group came in and it was Hubie Brown, Bob Knight and John Thompson, you’d listen to them,” he said.
Woodson’s staff, including Hopla, was fired by then-president of basketball operations Phil Jackson at the end of that season. The Knicks have now lost at least 50 games in each season since then, failing to make the postseason since 2012-13.