I’ll say up front, I’m skeptical of the claims here.
The claims come from a New York stock trader who says he was tossed from a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden last January simply for saying “Carmelo, you stink.” That eventually led to him losing his job of the last dozen years over the incident.
Former ING Financial Services trader Anthony Rotondi was booted from Madison Square Garden (MSG) this year for yelling “Carmelo, you stink.” Security wasn’t amused, and neither was his employer. He said he was ejected, arrested and fired after 12 years at ING.
Now, Rotondi is suing the arena’s owners, seeking pre-litigation information, specifically the names of security guards who tossed him from the Jan. 7 game against the Houston Rockets. Criticizing New York Knicks player Carmelo Anthony shouldn’t have led to his ejection, he argued in a filing yesterday in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan….
Madison Square Garden Co. said in a statement that the suit is frivolous and it’s considering a countersuit against Rotondi.
Rotondi, his supervisor and two ING clients went to the game using the firm’s tickets. The suit claimed that someone from MSG called ING the next day complaining of his language and behavior and that led to him getting fired.
Two thoughts here.
First, Carmelo did not stink that night. He had 34 points on 24 shots (.660 true shooting percentage), he was 6-of-7 from three, and he hit the free throws late that sealed the Knicks win.
Second, and more to the point, the MSG security has a reputation for being a bit prickly, but this would clearly be over the top if it went down as stated in the suit. A person in the arena has the right to yell at players and say what they want — within reason. There are lines of public decorum that would be offensive to those around the heckler and if someone crosses said lines security has the right to step in and act. Knicks fans certainly can be passionate.
Obviously, I was not there and do not know how this situation went down. I’ll just say that my BS detector goes off if the guy is there with his supervisor and clients and he gets canned two days later and the worst thing he says he said was “stink.” I have a suspicion there was a lot more going on here. If you’re going to a game with clients, you’re working and should behave as such.
But hey, it’s America and this is our legal system at work. Some lawyers are about to get paid, if nothing else.
UPDATE: Not long after I tweeted out this story Michael McCann, the sports law expert (and law professor) who writes for Sports Illustrated tweeted this: