Yesterday, ESPN’s Pablo S. Torre reported that New York Knicks players and employees were furious that the organization had yet to make a public statement regarding the death of George Floyd. Torre released an internal email sent to MSG employees with a message from James Dolan, owner of the Knicks and New York Rangers, explaining the team’s silence.
Here is an excerpt from that memo:
This is a turbulent time in our country. The coronavirus and civil unrest have taken their toll on our way of life. We at Madison Square Garden stand by our values of a respectful and peaceful workplace. We always will.
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. 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. What we say to each other matters. How we treat each other matters. And that’s what will get us through this difficult time.
It should be noted that at the time of Torre’s tweet, the Knicks and San Antonio Spurs were the only NBA teams that had yet to release a statement on the civil unrest sparked by the death of George Floyd and racial inequality in this country.
As of this morning, the Rangers were one of just a handful of NHL teams that has not made a public statement. Furthermore, the Rangers are one of the few teams that has not used its platform to signal boost others. This silence has been viewed as especially problematic in light of the team’s delayed response to make a statement after prospect K’Andre Miller was the target of racial slurs during a Q & A conference call with fans held on Zoom on Apr. 3, 2020.
Yesterday, Miller made his first public statement regarding that incident while also expressing his support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Miller’s full statement is transcribed below:
I’ve struggled for months to find the words to express my frustration and anger over the Zoom conference call incident when I was to be introduced after signing my NHL contract. It’s something that I won’t ever forget. But with COVID19 taking a stranglehold on the nation, it seemed like there were so many other priorities in the world, that it wasn’t my place to speak out about that incident. This pandemic isn’t discriminatory, it has been difficult for everyone and the priority was to keep everyone safe.
Now, in the midst of the senseless death of George Floyd, at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, the peaceful protests and violent riots have become the focus for all of us. I want to express my growing concern for the safety of our citizens of color, specifically in my home state, given recent events. I support the Black Lives Matter movement.
I struggle because I’ve never been fully accepted by either the black community or the white community. I struggle because for years I have been one of the only people of color on my hockey teams. I have been targeted because of my race when I was in youth hockey by some coaches, parents and players, but I refused to give up because of my love for the game.
You can only imagine how it felt to have an organization like the New York Rangers draft me, the hockey player. For that one moment in time I didn’t have to be defined by the color of my skin but rather on my hockey skills, athletic ability and character. This is how it should be all the time. It’s time for action, time for change and once and for all, it’s time to let black people be judged based on who we are not what we look like.
Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba shared his own thoughts on Twitter today, which concluded with Black Lives Matter. Adam Fox (link), Tony DeAngelo (link), and Rangers prospects Ty Ronning (link) and Eric Ciccolini (link) have also shared their perspectives on recent events on social media.
Both the Rangers and Knicks posted black tiles on Instagram today as part of #BlackoutTuesday. At the time of this article’s publication, the Rangers have yet to re-tweet any statements made by players.
Pablo S. Torre has also reported that “dozens” of disgruntled MSG employees are meeting without Dolan to discuss the internal memo that was made public last night.