James L. Dolan Biography

James Lawrence Dolan is an American businessman currently serving as the executive chairman and CEO of The Madison Square Garden Company. With a background in communications and a history of working in his father’s company, Cablevision, Dolan has had a diverse career. While he successfully shut down his father’s Voom satellite service idea, he has also faced failures in ventures such as Wiz entertainment and Clearview Cinemas. As the chairman of the Maddison Square Garden Company, Dolan oversees the day-to-day operations of the New York Knicks, New York Rangers, and New York Liberty. However, his management of these teams has faced criticism from fans, media, and sports professionals.

Quick Facts

  • Also Known As: James Lawrence Dolan
  • Age: 68 Years, 68 Year Old Males
  • Family:
    • Spouse/Ex-: Kristin Dolan (m. 2002)
    • Father: Charles Dolan
    • Siblings: Kathleen M. Dolan, Marianne Dolan Weber, Patrick Dolan, Thomas Dolan
  • Born Country: United States
  • CEOs
  • American Men
  • Notable Alumni: SUNY New Paltz
  • U.S. State: New Yorkers
  • Education: SUNY New Paltz

Childhood & Early Life

James L. Dolan was born on May 11, 1955, in Massapequa, New York, USA, to Charles Dolan and Helen Ann. He has five siblings, including Patrick Dolan, the president of Newsday subsidiary News 12 Networks. His father Charles Dolan is an American billionaire who established Cablevision in 1973. At present, he owns the supervoting shares of AMC Networks, MSG Networks, and The Madison Square Garden Company.


Initially, James L. Dolan had aspirations of becoming a musician. However, he ultimately chose to study communications at SUNY New Paltz. After he graduated, he became an employee of Cablevision. He served in the company in various capacities in the next few years before he was chosen to be its CEO in 1995.

Dolan opposed his father’s Voom satellite service concept, which turned into a point of contention among Cablevision’s Board of Directors. James’ father Charles and his supporters claimed that Voom could make Cablevision a prolific company in the emerging satellite market, while James and others held the opinion that it was too costly with no expense relief in near future. Eventually, it was James who prevailed in the dispute of the Dolans and all activities at Cablevision regarding Voom were shut down. The Voom incident helped him come out of his father’s shadow and make his own mark as a viable businessman. However, he has endured several failures throughout his career.

His purchase of the failing Wiz electronics and entertainment chain turned out to be a misadventure when it ended up accumulating $250 million in losses before its liquidation. The purchase of the Clearview Cinemas chain also proved to be a terrible business decision, as it was unsuccessful in garnering revenues.

In 1994, Cablevision bought 50% of the shares of the Madison Square Garden from Viacom. The other 50% of the shares were purchased by the ITT Corporation, who sold them to Cablevision in 1997. In 1999, Dolan became more involved in managing Cablevision’s sports assets and presently serves as the primary manager of these properties. The teams he supervises include National Basketball Association’s New York Knicks, the National Hockey League’s New York Rangers, the Women’s National Basketball Association’s New York Liberty, and the American Hockey League’s Hartford Wolf Pack.

Controversies & Scandals

James L. Dolan has received widespread criticism for the abysmal performances of the Knicks and the Rangers in their respective leagues. Although the latter team has since made a significant recovery, the former continues to perform poorly. Many polls, conducted by both media and fans, have listed him as the worst owner in the NBA. Even former NBA Commissioner David Stern once questioned Dolan’s intelligence.

In 2007, Dolan was mentioned in a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by former Knicks executive, Anucha Browne-Sanders, who claimed that Dolan had fired her out of spite when she accused Isiah Thomas of sexual harassment. The court delivered a verdict in favour of Browne-Sanders in 2007, ordering Dolan to pay $3 million of the $11 million settlement. In late 2017, he was mentioned in a lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein.

Family & Personal Life

James L. Dolan has been married twice in his life. With his first wife, he has four sons. He met his second wife Kristin Reynolds sometime in the 1990s. She was also working at Cablevision at the time. After joining the company as an intern, she gradually rose through the ranks to eventually become a vice president by the time of her marriage to Dolan. Dolan and Kristin’s marriage took place at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida in 2002. They have two sons together. In 2018, it was reported that the couple has parted ways.

Despite choosing to follow in the footsteps of his father, Dolan did not completely abandon music. He sings with a group named JD & The Straight Shot, who has put out several studio albums since 2005. As a Cablevision executive, Dolan worked with the company’s philanthropic associate, The Lustgarten Foundation, which is the largest private organisation in US involved in the pancreatic cancer research. He also helmed the MSG’s response to local and national tragedies.

Dolan has gained certain notoriety for his volatile temper. He has fought drug and alcohol problems for most of his adult life.

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