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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Knicks call report they withheld Jeremy Lin surgery news an extortion attempt

The Knicks responded to a damaging report from the New York Daily News by calling it an extortion attempt from the paper. The Daily News reported Monday that the Knicks withheld information about Jeremy Lin needing surgery on his knee until after the deadline for season ticket holders to purchase playoff tickets for all four rounds.

We wouldn’t put anything past the Knicks, but the report seemed like a stretch. The Knicks don’t have trouble selling out playoff games, so what motivation would they have to get more money up front? Do they really stand to profit that much from one month of interest? I can’t imagine that was their reason.

In reality, Lin, like any competitive player, didn’t want to commit to surgery that would likely end his season without exploring all options first. He saw several doctors, tested the knee well after the Wednesday playoff ticket deadline, and ultimately decided surgery was his best option. I think that’s the reason the announcement was delayed. What team tries bragging about devastating injury news? None of them do.

LBS called the Knicks around 4:00 p.m. ET Monday and they had no response to the report. A few hours later, both Madison Square Garden (MSG) and Cablevision sent statements blasting the Daily News.

Here are their statements, via IamaGM.com:

Cablevision Systems Corporation statement: “Today’s story in the New York Daily News is just another in a long list of articles and cover stories designed to provoke Cablevision and The Madison Square Garden Company. Mr. Zuckerman has engaged in a campaign of intimidation and extortion to effect a merger between Newsday and the Daily News. He has made repeated overtures to Mr. Dolan and his executives to combine the operations with joint ownership and shared printing and editorial expense. This proposal was rejected multiple times. In fact, at a Four Seasons lunch meeting on March 6, Mr. Zuckerman once again made his proposal, this time adding that “the bad press would end if we became joint owners” (a direct quote). Shortly thereafter, the Daily News ran a full front page with Mr. Dolan’s picture as a centerpiece for a skull and crossbones graphic that included the word “Toxic” in bold print. Today’s back page story is just another in a series of these defamatory extortions.”

The Madison Square Garden Company statement: “Today’s Daily News story is completely inaccurate, and serves only as another example of fabricated reporting by Mr. Zuckerman’s newspaper. The suggestion that the timing of Jeremy Lin’s injury report is in any way connected to a longstanding Knicks playoff ticket deadline is a malicious attack on The Madison Square Garden Company. Jeremy Lin decided on Saturday to have surgery now in hopes that he would be able to return in time for, or at least during, the playoffs. The Knicks have sold out 61 games in a row, including last season’s playoffs, and as standard practice we provided season ticket holders a first opportunity benefit to reserve playoff tickets before going on sale to the general public.”

Cablevision President and CEO and The Madison Square Garden Company Executive Chairman Jim Dolan said, “I understand that there will always be those who are critical of anyone who owns a controlling interest in three New York sports franchises. But, Mr. Zuckerman’s attempts to parlay this into a favorable arrangement for himself could not be more misguided.”

The Daily News printed a juicy story and it went viral. Unfortunately, the response from the Knicks probably won’t receive as much attention, though it’s just as important for their side to be heard. I tend to believe them more than I do the Daily News on this matter.



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