Steve Stoute's translation agency was hired last month to strengthen the Knicks brand and improve loyalty to the fan base. The offer includes an image reworking for the owner James Dolan.
How much influence Stoute had on the replacement of Steve Mills as team president on Tuesday is a matter of opinion. Some suggested Stoute to orchestrate Mills because it is bad for Dolan's image, and others, including a source near Mills, told The Post that Stoute was not a factor at all.
"He is really there to work on Jim's image," said the source. "I don't think he had much to do with it. Jim and [Mills] talked all the time and were pretty transparent to each other. This has more to do with Jim and [Mills] than anything else."
Regardless of whether or not Stoute's fingerprints are on Mill's departure, he still has a lot to do to improve Dolan's image. The last time the Knicks were in the garden, the game ended with the singing of the fans: “Sell the team! … sell the team! "
This happened in the final seconds of the Knicks' defeat against the Grizzlies on January 29, between 127 and 106, when the two teams were involved in a small brawl that involved a greater amount of pushing and pulling. Usually, in such situations, a lot of cheers go to either the home team or the visiting villains. Instead, it directed its anger at Dolan, who was sitting in his usual place in the yard.
"Sell the team!"
You cannot blame them. Knicks fans – not weekend tourists, but real Knicks fans – deserve it better than ever, and the only real image improvement that will work for Dolan is to put a winning product on the pitch that he didn't do in his tenure as owner.
Yes, it will be helpful if he is not photographed sending security programs to remove an angry teenager who added his voice to the Sell the Team song last week. The fact that Knicks legend Charles Oakley was physically expelled three years ago remains an unforgettable and in many eyes unforgivable memory.
Perhaps Dolan's attempt to change the picture was one of the reasons why he called the teenager's mother, a 20-year-old season ticket holder, and what she called "a pleasant and respectful conversion."
It's a good place to start, and given Stoute's background – his previous customers include Nets, NFL, AT&T, Anheuser-Busch and State Farm – he should ultimately have a positive impact on the franchise.
Firing Mills is unlikely to satisfy a fan base that has spent a lot of time watching bad basketball over the past two decades and has kept getting news that a solution is nearby. However, free agent acquisitions didn't work. Neither has the design. Choosing the right managers and winning a winning combination of talent is elusive and has always led to disappointments.
"We still have a long way to go," Stoute described his mission with the Knicks to Bloomberg News.
To his honor, Dolan seems to be as annoyed as his fan base. Mills thought he would survive until the end of the year, but the source said Dolan was frustrated because he thought the improvement wasn't going to be quick enough and he wanted to start interviewing candidates this week to become the new team president ,
The timing of the release also had little to do with Thursday's trading deadline. According to the source, Mills was working on a possible trade agreement with Golden State for D’Angelo Russell, and Dolan was aware of and supported these discussions.
"There was no tension between Steve and Jim," said the source. "Jim knew the parameters and agreed where they are."
The Knicks return to the garden on Thursday evening to play the magic, and although new marketing campaigns and more shine could help, everyone is ultimately judged by the product on the pitch. Don't expect fans to be less nervous now that Mills is gone. The "Sell the Team" calls are unlikely to go away so quickly.
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