James Dolan is hardly going to submit to a Q&A with the likes of Howard Beck or Frank Isola, but when Billboard Magazine’s Matthew Belloni wants to discuss the Cablevision CEO’s partnership with Irving Azoff, or the progress (?) of vanity project JD & The Straight Shot, guess who has all the time in the world? Alas, not all of the questions were of the soft toss variety, especially the inquiry into Dolan’s ill-advised handling of customer complaints :
Does it annoy you when people say you’re anti-union?
Yes. It’s a well-known tactic of some of these unions to personally go after the people who are running the companies. It doesn’t reflect well on them at all. We hold to our values, and when people want to cooperate and work together to build a business together, both do well. Just go talk to the guys at Local One or a lot of the other unions at Madison Square Garden. They all think they’re doing well. Radio City Music Hall — when we took over, there was one show there, the Christmas show. Maybe about five concerts a year. That place is humming, now. That means everybody who works there is going to be busy, and they’re almost all union people. One squeaky wheel does not make a bad train.
Someone said that during a negotiation, you got out your guitar and started playing a song called “Lockout Blues.” True?
That was during the NBA lockout. I was on the negotiating committee.
You’re paying Phil Jackson $12 million a year for five years. Still worth it?
You got to believe, baby! I believe, I believe! I enjoy being out of the limelight. I enjoy having two experts in there that I trust. I barely have to do a thing. It can stay like that for me forever. As long as we continue to make progress — and I’m sure we will. I believe!
What do you say to fans who want you to sell?
I don’t respond to people like that. I learned a lesson this year about that. I won’t do it again.
Yes, you emailed a fan and told him off and suggested he might be an alcoholic. Do you regret what you wrote?
I don’t believe what I said was wrong. I believe responding to him was wrong. I believe what I said was absolutely correct. But that’s the thing — why engage with people like that? That was a mistake.