I just saw a great post from Peanuts on social media. It said we shouldn’t have to wait until Thanksgiving Day to say thank you for all we have.
We have struggled for the past 20 months to deal with a once in a lifetime pandemic. It closed down sports totally for about six months and partially for several more. We came close to losing Island Garden when the landlord wanted us out for non-payment of rent during a time we were not permitted to open by the Governor. I refused and even cursed the landlord (who in all fairness was just trying to protect their investment). With the help of some government assistance and great emotional support from my great friends and staff, we found a way to not only survive but flourish. I reached a compromise with the landlord and we extended our lease until 2027 and hopefully many years after that. God saw to it that I am now the principal lease holder of Island Garden and I have taken on tremendous partners who believe deeply in helping young athletes and the value of sports. I read another social media post this morning that talked about angels who look over us and are always there for us in difficult times. I have a pretty clear idea of who my angels are and I am incredibly thankful to God and those angels who are both in heaven and right here on earth.
Today, we are bigger, stronger and more thankful than I could ever have imagined. Island Garden is totally refurbished and looking great. We are not even done yet as we await the delivery of new scoreboards and score tables, new televisions and so much more. Lightning is bigger than ever and more importantly, works every day to make the experience for the players in our organization to have the best experience possible. We have a great reputation but we will never live on that but rather work to build an even better one every single day as we move forward. We are about to make new announcements that will reflect our continuing commitment to excellence.
I have so many people to thank on this Thanksgiving Holiday. I always start with my unbelievable staff who put up with my 5:00 AM texts, my frequent unreasonableness, my mistakes and my new ideas that sometimes make no sense to anyone but me! I am incredibly thankful that my own son, Jim, has returned from his professional career as a Division l college coach to run the business with me. His expertise will insure that Lightning and Island Garden will reach new pinnacles in the immediate and long term future. The there is Rosemary who has been with Lightning and Island Garden since the very first day of both great organizations. She has truly dedicated her life to her basketball family. By the way, Rosemary is primarily responsible for overseeing all the renovations. She has dealt with every contractor, supplier, paver, floor installer, heating and air conditioning company, painter, etc. in an incredibly effective way. Then there is Karen who truly the brains behind the operation. She has methodically organized a very small business into a large complex sports operation that operates multiple facilities and organizations as well as leagues, tournaments and so much more. Everything flows through Karen’s expertise. Most of all, she is a great leader whose vision is one of the main reasons why we are where we are today. I have always tried to surround myself with people who do not always agree with me but have the same vision of excellence and a deep commitment to athletes. Karen is just that; she occasionally goes “silent” on me which means she is not liking what she is hearing. Even if we disagree, I never doubt that Karen is dedicated to excellence. Then there is Tom. He is truly “Mr. Customer Service” who is liked by everyone because he makes everyone feel special. He listens to everyone and offers them respect even if that person is being unreasonable or disrespectful to him or us. Tom is always available to adjust issues in our ever “fluid ” business environment. And then there is Debbie!! She is our “Hammer”. She has the job of collecting money and rosters and that is no fun but is an absolute necessity for our business to run properly. Debbie is incredibly loyal and dedicated to her responsibilities on behalf of Island Garden and Lightning. Finally, there is Dwayne who has worked every day for the past 20 years to keep Island Garden clean. This is a huge task that sometimes is impossible. For certain is the fact that Dwayne takes pride in his work and loves the Island Garden.
I know I am writing too much but one more huge thank you. Mark Fisher saved Island Garden 19 years ago and always did everything to support it for two decades. In recent months, he turned everything over to me. I have never met anyone who loved basketball more and is more dedicated to the future success of young people through sports. Mark is truly one of our angels here on earth.
Happy Thanksgiving to our entire Island Garden and Lightning families.
The 27th 2021-2022 Super League Season is about to begin right after Thanksgiving. That is a statement we can all be very proud of.