Owners of Knicks, Rangers and Guardians closing in on dubious milestone

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The Dolan family sports curse is on the precipice of reaching a dubious milestone of failing to win a championship in 100 seasons of owning teams across four professional leagues.

Cleveland Guardians owner Larry Dolan, whose underdog squad is battling the New York Yankees in the American League Division Series, has gone 22 years without a title since buying the franchise with his son Paul in 2000.

It’s been even longer for Larry Dolan’s better-known nephew, James Dolan, who owns the Knicks and Rangers and used to own the Liberty of the WNBA. There have been 28 seasons of a disappointment for Knicks fans and 27 for the Rangers (factoring in the 2004-05 canceled season) since the blues-playing mogul bought the teams in 1995. 

Add another 22 empty seasons for the Liberty, which were founded in 1997 and sold after the 2018 season, and you come up with a losing legacy of campaigns that will stretch to a century if the team formerly known as the Indians is bounced from the playoffs. 

No other sports team-owning family has come close to this kind of futility, sports industry sources said.

Paul Dolan’s Cleveland Guardians have gone 22 years without a title since he bought the franchise with his father in 2000.
Getty Images

The Bidwill family, the longtime owners of the NFL’s Cardinals, has gone 74 seasons without a title after winning it in 1947 when the team was in Chicago before moving the franchise to St. Louis and then Arizona.

There have been some heartbreaking near-misses for both branches of the Dolan clan. The Knicks made it to the 1999 NBA Finals and the Rangers lost in the 2014 Stanley Cup Finals. The Guardians were up three games to one on the Chicago Cubs in the 2016 World Series before losing three straight – including the decisive Game 7 in extra innings. Even the Liberty made four WNBA Finals appearances but came up short.

Hoisting a championship trophy seemed inevitable when James Dolan bought the Knicks and Rangers in 1995. The year before, the Rangers won the Stanley Cup – ending a 54-year drought – and the Pat Riley-coached Knicks fell just short in the NBA Finals to the Houston Rockets.

James Dolan
There have been 28 seasons of a disappointment for Knicks fans and 27 for the Rangers (factoring in the 2004-05 canceled season) since James Dolan bought the teams in 1995. 
Getty Images

James Dolan has been hurt by his impatience and meddling, especially with the Knicks, an MSG analyst told The Post.

Riley famously quit via fax to take over the Miami Heat after his bid to buy a stake in the Knicks was rejected and the team was sold to Dolan, setting off a coaching carousel that has since seen 16 different leaders at the helm in 27 years. There were 17 coaching changes in the first 49 years after the franchise was established in 1946. 

Dolan has also changed general managers 10 times during his tempestuous reign – compared to 12 GMs in the team’s first five decades – and spent wildly on free agents or traded for stars who turned out to be flops. 

Executive chairman and CEO of The Madison Square Garden Company and executive chairman of MSG Networks James L. Dolan (L) and model Marcela Braga at a game between the New York Knicks and the Phoenix Suns.
James Dolan has been hurt by his impatience and meddling, especially with the Knicks, an MSG analyst told The Post.
Getty Images

“Knowing Jim, he wants to win badly. Maybe he wants it too much,” the MSG analyst said.

Paul Dolan has been credited with having more sports savvy than James since the smaller-market Guardians don’t have the resources to pay high salaries, sources said. The franchise, which last won a World Series in 1948, has had five managers and four GMs under his 22-year stewardship.

There is not that much cooperation between the cousins on how to run their teams, a family observer told The Post.

James Dolan
“Knowing Jim, he wants to win badly. Maybe he wants it too much,” an analyst said.
NBAE via Getty Images

The window for the Cleveland Dolans to break the family jinx is closing. They sold a minority stake to David Blitzer this year that gives him a path to buy control of the team in five to six years. 

To complete the longshot mission to fill the barren Dolan trophy case, the Guardians will first need to get past new AL home run king Aaron Judge and the Yankees in the best-of-five ALDS. That task got harder after losing the opening game Tuesday.

Cleveland must win three of the next four games to move on to a potential showdown with the powerhouse Houston Astros just to get to the World Series – where the likely opponent would be the Los Angeles Dodgers, who racked up the most wins in baseball this season.

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