NBA's Knicks explain silence on George Floyd killing

In an internal memo to employees, Madison Square Garden Company CEO James Dolan, the owner of both pro teams, said he realizes “the importance of this issue.

The parent company of the NBA’s New York Knicks and NHL’s New York Rangers on Monday explained its decision not to release a public statement following the death of George Floyd last week.

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In an internal memo to employees, Madison Square Garden Company CEO James Dolan, the owner of both pro teams, said he realizes “the importance of this issue.” Dolan said his organization remains committed to “our values of respect and peaceful workplace.” At the same time, he argued that MSG’s status in the sports world did not mean the company is qualified to weigh in on social issues.

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"As companies in the business of sports and entertainment, however, we are not any more qualified than anyone else to offer our opinion on social matters,” Dolan wrote in the memo obtained by ESPN. “What’s important is how we operate. Our companies are committed to upholding our values, which include creating a respectful workplace for all, and that will never change.”

The Knicks were one of just two of the NBA’s 30 teams that haven’t made a public comment on Floyd’s death. The team did participate in Instagram’s “#BlackoutTuesday” trend.

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An MSG spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.

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Protests have swept cities across the country in recent days after Floyd died while in Minneapolis police custody last week. Floyd’s death was ruled a homicide on Monday. Derek Chauvin, the white police officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck was arrested and all four officers directly involved in the incident were fired.

Sports franchises, officials and teams have expressed condolences for Floyd’s family and spoken out against racism. Prominent voices included Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and LeBron James.

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