Wednesday, June 3, 2015


OK, after almost 6 years, I have finally unearthed the most feckless organization in the World -- not the Jewish World, the World; not the non-profit world, the World. I did not believe that anything could exceed the South Palm Beach County Federation and I really did not believe that anything...anything...could be worse than what we have experienced with the moribund JFNA over this 6 year period. But I have found it.


It's not just that the New York Knicks had the second worst record in the National Basketball Association in 2015 and that the team has been miserable for years and years; it is the choices that the Knicks ownership has made culminating in the decision to rehire one Isiah Thomas, a disgraced former Knicks' coach and executive, as the CEO of the Knicks sister team, the Liberty in the Women's NBA, perhaps the worst single decision in organized sports since Jerry Krause, then the  General Manager of the Chicago Bulls, decided to "remake the franchise" after 6 championships and destroyed that team in the process. Why is this decision so bad? Well...

In 2007, a jury found Thomas guilty of sexually harassing a "team executive in the crudest of terms" after she complained of the harassment the team's owner, the imperious James Dolan, "personally insisted on firing her." The Knicks and Thomas were assessed an $11,000,000 judgment. One year later -- yes, it took one year -- Thomas was fired. And, now, this sexual harasser is being brought back by the same owner to run a women's professional basketball team. WTF???

Of course, the Knicks owner is engaged in a private business and, as he has made clear, he can do whatever he wants. And, he has, dismissing criticism as the work of "alcoholics," among other things. If he wants to throw his money away, well, there has yet to be a public trusteeship suggested for a private company. On the other hand, the leaders of JFNA have thrown away our communal dollars, recklessly and without regard for the organization's present or future, if there is a future. Christine Brennan, the wonderful and insightful sportswriter for USA Today, in a detailed commentary following the Dolan decision to rehire Thomas wrote: "Yes, a sexual harasser has just become President of a WNBA team. I have to say that is a sentence I never thought I would write." And I have written a parallel: "One who never knew or was involved in the Jewish federations has just become President of JFNA. I have to say that is a sentence I never thought I would write."

And, there the parallels to and differences from the feckless JFNA -- the New York Knicks of Jewish organizational life -- begin. 

  • Both the Knicks and JFNA have hired leaders, one in Thomas, the other in Silverman, who have proved to be incapable of achieving the organization's goals -- Thomas, as an historically great player and then as one-time Coach and then as General Manager, at least spoke the language unique to basketball; Silverman as the unknowing CEO who still fails to speak the truth about federations which he still, after 5+ years, fails to understand;
  • Both the Knicks and JFNA have Chairs, Dolan for the Knicks and Siegal for JFNA, whose lack of judgment in retaining these guys evidences a disdain for their organizations, their fans/constituencies and disdain for success itself;
  • The Knicks rehired Thomas, according to most, because Dolan and he are close friends; Siegal renewed Jerry Silverman as JFNA CEO because...well, just because -- and it's none of your business.
So, there you have it -- the New York Knicks and the Jewish Federations of North America, twinned in failure, paired in patheticism and the most feckless of the feckless.



Anonymous said...

Further similarities - Both JFNA and the Knicks are based in NY. But if you need further proof where do a very large percentage of people from Boca Raton come from? Would we need anymore proof that it's the water they drink in NY. that causes this kind of behavior?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Wexler:

Everywhere Isiah has gone since he retired as a player has been an utter and total disaster. Clearly he must have the goods on Mr. Dolan--there is no other reason why he would want to be anywhere Isiah. In this case, there's plenty doubting Thomas.

Anonymous said...

Are you suggesting that Jerry S. "must have the goods on.." Mr. Siegal? If he did, that would at least explain a decision at jana as bad as Dolan's for the Knicks.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Richard, you have not convinced me. JFNA remains the "most feckless" of ll those feckless. After all, the New York Knicks have the greatest basketball Coach in the modern era of the NBA as their "CEO", JFNA still has Jerry as "ours."

Anonymous said...

I'm a little confused. " The NY Knicks have the greatest Coach in the modern era of the NBA as their CEO"??? Are we talking about the same person? He may not even be the best coach in the Knicks modern history. Check this out. At 5-32, New York sits dead-stinking-last in the entire NBA. The neophyte Minnesota Timberwolves have been better. Ditto for the military-grade tank known as the Philadelphia 76ers. In Fisher's rookie campaign coaching at any level, the Knicks have undercut them all, and they show no signs of charging out of the cellar.

For all Mike Woodson's 2013-14 struggles in New York, he posted a comparatively respectable 37-45 record en route to his axing. His offense was basically just Carmelo Anthony isolations, and his defense was switch-happy and discordant, but the Knicks produced significantly better under Woody than they have with Fish, who was brought in to be the steward of New York's championship resurgence.

That was never going to happen in one year, but the Knicks have taken such a giant leap backward that 2014-15 is a lost season in nearly every sense. The newly implemented triangle offense isn't jelling, the defense remains sieve-like. Fish's efforts to build a foundation for future Knicks teams haven't yielded much in terms of tangible, real-time results.

But for all New York's struggles, Fisher's performance at the helm is redeemable. The on-court product is ugly, but it's backed by sound logic and firm emotional leadership." - But as they say, the operation was a success but the patient died.

RWEX said...

OK, OK -- I accept your criticism (and it was excellent) for my poor explanation. Phil Jackson, former NBA Coach with 10 championship rings (6 with the Bulls and 4 with the Lakers), is the CEO of the woebegone Knicks -- he is their President and General Manager.

Forgive me.

Anonymous said...

Jackson actually has 11 rings--1 as a player for the Knicks.

So they have a once great player who is an abysmal coach, GM and owner, and a once great coach who so far has been bupkus as CEO.