It's About Making Money, Not Getting Victories

There is a popular saying in street basketball and competitive sports overall which states, "don't hate the player, hate the game." It's a pretty accurate saying that filters down into not disliking a particular player because he is good at what he does, but hate the game that he plays. Unfortunately for Knicks President and General Manager Scott Layden, this phrase only applies to the competitive, athletic part of basketball and doesn't cover the business side.

If the saying did clearly represent the business side of basketball, or any type of business for that matter, it could be translated to "don't hate the employee, hate the owner." Though this isn't common slang and is pretty cheesy, it is true. Don't dislike an employee because of his business actions; hate the owner who imposes how the employee should act. And therefore, yes, someone has to say it, don't hate Scott Layden for doing makeshift job after makeshift job on the Knicks to secure playoff berths, hate James Dolan, the Knicks owner, for ordering Layden to do such things.

After witnessing the NBA Draft and seeing (and hearing) the reaction Knicks fans gave Scott Layden after he traded the 7th pick to the Denver Nuggets, along with Marcus Camby and Mark Jackson for all-star forward Antonio McDyess, one could say it wasn't warm and receptive. To be frank, Layden is hated by the majority of Knicks fans throughout the New York and elsewhere. Fans call him "Lay-dumb" and "Lay-zie" and a smorgasbord of other insulting names, but what has Scott Layden really done to deserve all of this?

Looking at the career of Scott Layden, general manager, assumptions can be made that his goal is to guide a team into the first or second round of the playoffs, no further. But what happens when one makes an assumption? It "makes an a-s-s out of u and m-e." When one looks at the situation logically, one conclusion can be made for certain; Scott Layden works for his boss, James Dolan.

Now, since that has been established, the Knicks fan base must look at what owner James Dolan wants since what he wants accomplished Mr. Layden must look to fulfill in order to keep his job. So, obviously Dolan wants to make money. Just by looking at the high MSG ticket prices, incredibly high Knicks salary, and the NBA's luxury tax looming on the horizon and adding these factors up, this is the only conclusion that can be reached. Dolan doesn't know anything about basketball, he's said it himself when he stated "I'll admit it…I know nothing about basketball." He's not in it because he loves the game or the team like most owners. James Dolan is out for one thing and one thing only: to make money.

So Scott Layden is left with the task of making money for James Dolan. How exactly does a general manager do this? Rebuild? No, definitely not. Too much money is lost in the quest to build a contender. (And even if Layden were given the O.K. to rebuild, he wouldn't be able to give it a full-fledged effort. On a team with the immovable contracts of Allan Houston, Shandon Anderson, Howard Eisley, and Travis Knight, it'd be both stupid and impractical to attempt to rebuild when you couldn't go all out due to the high salaries.) If one can't rebuild, there's only one other option: contend. Via contending, the Knicks would make the playoffs (millions of dollars are earned by teams in the playoffs, just through television and attendance), and Dolan would make his precious money.

After treading through all of this somewhat important background information realize one thing: Scott Layden is a general manager with his hands tied behind his back. He's inherited a team with an unworkable salary cap situation and an owner whose main goal in life is to make as much money as possible, one who refuses to allow the rebuilding of a team into a championship contender, one who is content with first round playoff exits. In sum and taking this back to where this column started, don't hate Scott Layden but hate James Dolan. Dolan is the man ultimately responsible for this mess of overpaid players we all like to call the New York Knicks.

Tim Kelly is a staff writer for who can be reached at

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