As most fans know – both the young ones and those whose fandom preceded the ownership of James Dolan – the Knicks are enjoying a run of success that has been unprecedented for about a decade. It has certainly been unprecedented in the owner’s tenure.
Donnie Walsh is the architect, and more than anyone is the man who deserves the credit. Walsh slashed the payroll, revamped the talent, and most importantly changed the culture at One Penn Plaza from one that treated wins as a relic and employed the most bizarre rationalizations to excuse its failures to one that seeks results and accepts responsibility.
But Walsh would tell you that he considers his job half complete. The Knicks are famously “back” but nobody suggests that they are all the way back, least of whom Donnie himself.
Notwithstanding Walsh’s humility, his team has returned to prominence so far and so fast that most folks are willing to sing Walsh’s praises. Most folks also think he deserves an extension. But the thick headed billionaire scion of a telecommunications magnate who was gifted this team because of his heritage is not like most folks.
No. Since James Dolan’s takeover at Madison Square Garden failure has been rewarded (Isiah’s extension) and as of yet, the singular instance of success has not. If Dolan does not extend Donnie Walsh it will instead be punished.
Brilliant management. Brilliant message to send to the best and brightest who would consider employment at the Garden (including, incidentally, Mark Warkentein who Yahoo!’s Adrian Wojnarowski suggests was thrust on Walsh by Dolan). It’s a message that no matter how diligent and loyal you are, no matter how earnestly you do your job, and no matter whether you succeed, your future is subject to the unpredictable whims and obstinate callowness of a tone deaf billionaire.
And the fans can’t do anything about it. Nothing us peasants can do or say will get through to the megalomaniac chairman of Madison Square Garden. But we can let him know at least.
If you are a like-minded fan, do your part and add an #ExtendWalsh hashtag to your tweets. More importantly, chant “Extend-Walsh” at the games you attend. It won’t change his mind, but if anything it will be a welcome and heartening contrast to the “Fire Layden” and “Fire Isiah” chants that cycled through the Garden in years past. And it will serve as a message to the man who ended that cycle and restored Knick pride that while he may not be appreciated from above, he is revered from below. And maybe, as his silhouette shrinks through the Garden hallways for the last time and he makes a lonely exit, it can at the very least be an exit that tastes bittersweet.