Every so often inflexion points occur in human history that will alter the course of the future forever. Natural disasters, wars, great inventions – things that once were considered impossible or non-existent occur or come to life and have such an impact that our very understanding of the way the world works and what is possible, changes forever.
Today you are being presented with an idea that will sound so impossible that your gut reaction will be some mixture of laughter and disbelief. You will be tempted to discard the idea immediately as complete impossible fiction. But I’m asking you to resist that gut reaction. Come to this idea only with optimism and an open mind. Think only of the way this idea could change professional sports for the better for all time.
What if I asked you – Do you want to buy the New York Knicks for $300?
Would you say yes?
This is an actual possibility.
The idea is simple enough: we crowdfund the required capital to make an offer to the current owner James Dolan to buy the team from him. Recent speculation has seen Dolan suggest that if he would even consider selling the team it might be in the vicinity of $5 billion. He has also mentioned in relation to any sale that his first priority is to his shareholders. If anyone is familiar with the most recent sale of an NBA team – the LA Clippers – you will know that now owner Steve Ballmer cut out the competition quickly by simply offering over market value at $2 billion.
I propose therefore that in order for this ambitious and enormous syndicate to be taken seriously it would need to raise well over that figure – let’s say 6 billion USD.
That means 20 million basketball fans across the globe at $300 dollars a head.
Why do it?
There are a number of reasons to entertain this possibility. As a financial investment, 20 million owners have a tiny percentage of equity per person. As such any return on investment would be small albeit positive. The Knicks are as financially successful franchise as there is – despite poor on court performances in recent times – so the investment makes sensible if modest financial sense.
The biggest reason to do this is empower fans in a way that has never been envisaged before. To democratize franchise ownership in a way that will give fans legitimate say over the direction of their team. This is an idea so lofty it has virtually no parallel in sporting history. Indeed the philosophical basis of this proposal is more akin to social and political revolutions of the past.
And so the point of this article today is to get Knicks and basketball fans thinking. What if we pulled this off? How incredible would it feel to be able to have a vote on actual organisational decision making for one of the biggest franchises in world sport? To that end I implore you today, to share this idea. Talk about it with your friends. Distribute these articles of independence and think openly and optimistically about a future where YOU own a portion of the New York Knicks.
For your edification….
The Declaration of Knickdependence
When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for a fanbase to dissolve the bands which have connected them with a single owner, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all fans are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of actually winning basketball games. That to secure these rights, Owners should be instituted among fans, deriving their just powers from the consent of the fanbase, — That whenever any Form of Ownership becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Ownership.
The history of the present King of the Knicks is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object his personal enrichment or amusement. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
- Money spent freely and recklessly (Eddie Curry, Tim Hardaway Jr, Joakim Noah) interspersed with penny-pinching miserliness (Kristaps Porzingis).
- Constant flux in administration and a lack of awareness about what it takes to manage a team (6 coaches in a 7 years span between 2001-2007; Phil Jackson)
- Mistreatment of the fourth estate – an unwillingness to discuss, explain or engage, and the banning of journalists
- Public proclamations of preference for JD and The Straight Shot over the NY Knicks
- Isiah Thomas: President of Basketball Operations
- Isiah Thomas: Coach
- Banning beloved Knick Charles Oakley from MSG
- Paying Phil Jackson $24,000,000 to be President despite spending 50% of his time in Los Angeles and ultimately being fired over numerous internal conflicts
Before the beginning of the 2019-20 season, the Mad King will likely field offers from around the world to sell your New York Knicks. In response, we propose the biggest campaign for democratic control in the history of sports. To succeed, we must unite as a global sporting public committed to returning credibility and success to a great franchise. America has a history of pioneering democracy, of recognising oppression and of understanding fundamental truths about essential rights and freedoms. Should we win the day, whenever that day may be, it will be with a collective voice proclaiming “We will not go quietly into the night!” We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive! Today we celebrate our New York Knick Independence Day!”
- The Proposal
We, therefore, the humble fans of the New York Knicks, propose to buy the basketball team from the Madison Square Garden Company, and absolve all allegiance and connection to James Dolan. Every investor will have an even equity share on par with each other investor. All powers of the new ownership – Knicks Independent Incorporated – will be vested in the people. Decisions will each be proposed for consideration by the joint owners, voted on and carried by a simple majority.
We think this will solve the current problem in 2 simple but meaningful ways
A: The team will no longer operate as a separate entity watched and lamented upon from afar by long suffering but loyal and patient supporters. If you care about the Knicks you will literally own a piece of them. The fortune of the team will be explicitly linked to yours. WE, the people, will get a say over what the team does; WE, the people, will reap the proportional financial benefits of team ownership; WE, the people, will be more than simply emotionally intertwined with the team – the team will be OURS.
B: For a team that is so financially successful, so storied and beloved – on court success has been absent for decades. We believe this comes from ownership having little concern or real passion for the on court fortunes of the team. By turning the team over to actual fans we think the on court success of the team will improve by virtue of the communal knowledge, expertise and passion of each fan/owner. The path to glory will be paved brick by brick by the individuals who love and support this team.
- The Landscape
What we know is that the New York Knicks are we one of the most well established and recognisable sports franchises in the world. The team enjoys the luxury of having ‘real’ fans. Lifelong supporters who are born into a culture of supporting the team. This speaks to the stability and reliability of the NY fan base. Almost 6 million people pledge their support on Facebook. The Knicks continually generate overall season attendances of over 800,000 people, typically ranking in the top 5 for attendance. Importantly NY generates this support despite providing a poor on court product. As a measure of support in the face of adversity NY generates 34,653 attendances per win. This is by far the most support per win of any team in the league.
- Making it happen
Recent reports value the Knicks at around $4.8 billion USD. James Dolan has mused publicly that he would consider offers at around $5 billion USD. We suspect that because a democratic ownership structure will be complex and unique, that for our bid to be taken seriously will require us to make an offer substantially above the market valuation. For that reason we think if we can make a bid of $6,000,000 USD that James Dolan and the Madison Square Garden Company will be forced to take the People’s bid seriously. For that we are going to need 20 million individual investments of $300 USD each.