The Knicks Hardly Interested Me. The Owner Was Another Story.

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After more than 25 years of living in New York City, I attended my first New York Knicks game in June. It was Game 5 of the second round of the N.B.A. playoffs, against the Miami Heat, with exciting action that saw the Knicks storm ahead in the second half and cling to the lead to win 112-103.

After many disappointing seasons, this was the team’s first trip to the second round of the playoffs in a decade. The 20,000 fans packed into Madison Square Garden were incandescent with rah-rah, and few could take their eyes off the court.

As for me, I spent the majority of the game staring at a 68-year-old man dressed in quotidian khakis and a blue blazer. He was sitting in a floor seat near one of the baskets, barely budging from a hunched posture, and not once, to my eye at least, cracking a smile.

It was James L. Dolan, the chairman and chief executive of the companies that own the Garden, the Knicks and their co-tenant, the Rangers.

Sometimes this is the reality of being a reporter: You go to an exciting basketball game in what may be the liveliest arena in America so that you can fix a stare on a motionless guy who is somewhat ancillary to the action, in case he does something, anything, at all. (He didn’t.)

But that was just one night during the six-month span I spent reporting a profile of Mr. Dolan, someone who — no matter how impassive he may be as he watches his own teams play — elicits impassioned opinions from the politicians, lawyers and sports fans who orbit around him.

Knicks fans,

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