The Knicks called for peace with Charles Oakley.
Now, they’ve made a new enemy out of a beloved one-time Knicks supporter.
Spike Lee was captured on video having difficulty entering Madison Square Garden for last night’s game. He was yelling and even compared himself to Oakley (warning: profanity):
Director Spike Lee denied entry to MSG. Rumors are circulating that MSG CEO James Dolan didn’t want the famed director to enter. #SpikeLee #MSG pic.twitter.com/0gZVaHDXBP
— BroTalkLive (@BroTalkLivePod) March 3, 2020
Lee reached his courtside seat in time to watch New York beat the Rockets.
Meanwhile, the Knicks were busy conveying their version of events.
Marc Berman of the New York Post:
According to a source, Lee had used the employee entrance instead of the VIP entrance before and was told to refrain.
A Garden official said Lee was never ejected and is no longer angry.
Malika Andrews of ESPN:
A Knicks' spokesperson confirmed that it is "untrue" that Lee was ever asked to leave the Garden on Monday Night. According to the spokesperson, there was a mix up over which entrance Lee should enter through.
— Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews) March 3, 2020
Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports:
Source on Spike Lee confusion: “Untrue that Spike was removed. It was simply an issue of using the wrong entrance.”
Spike and James Dolan were seen at halftime speaking on the floor, laughing and exchanging a handshake
— Vincent Goodwill (@VinceGoodwill) March 3, 2020
Ian Begley of SNY:
The entrance Spike Lee used at MSG was an employee entrance. A source said NYK owner Jim Dolan and Lee indeed resolved any outstanding issue when they spoke at halftime. https://t.co/vQB2tyZs6O
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) March 3, 2020
So, Lee went on ESPN in an interview that he began, “This is Garden spin. Thanks for having me.”
Lee said, after having his ticket scanned and boarding an elevator, he was told he must exit the arena and use a different entrance. But he didn’t trust the messengers, believing he’d get stuck outside with his ticket already scanned. Eventually, he took a different indoor route to his seat.
It was a terrible experience. When I went home last night in the cab, I said, “I’m going to let it chill.” Then, my son read me the statement by the Garden. I said, “Nah.” It’s spin.
So, if they want to change this whole new policy, talk about. And first, they never said when the thing changed. So, why not call me? When my deposit is due – astronomical price for Knick tickets – and I’m one day late, my phone is ringing off the hook.
I’m being harassed by James Dolan. I don’t know why.
Lee sounded particularly upset about the characterization that he shook hands and laughed with Dolan at halftime:
No. That’s a lie.
It’s Garden spin. I wasn’t shaking his hands. In fact, when he came over to me, I didn’t give him right away. I was sitting in my seat [arms crossed].
He said, “We have to talk.” I said, “Talk about what?” I said, “Mr. Dolan, I’ve been coming here for 28 years. Why was I not notified by email, text, phone?”
He says, “Now you know.” Now you know?! It’s too late.
Lee said he’s not attending another Knicks home game this season:
I’m coming back next year, but I’m done for this season. I’m done.
What a day for Knicks president Leon Rose to officially begin his tenure. He can dodge the public, but these are the types of issues he must manage – and that come up way too often under Dolan.
Lee repeatedly said he didn’t know why Dolan was targeting him. Lee wore an Oakley jersey to a game after that incident, but that was years ago. Otherwise, it’s hard to find examples of Lee opposing the owner. But it doesn’t take much to feed Dolan’s paranoia and pettiness.
To be fair, I wouldn’t assume Lee was totally wronged here. Perhaps, he was previously told to use a different entrance. He’s a celebrity who often gets favorable treatment and possibly pushed it too far.
That doesn’t matter, though. Lee pays the Knicks a ridiculous amount of money. That’s no way to treat a high-paying customer, especially such a positive ambassador for the Knicks’ brand. It’s on them to make him feel welcome.
They absolutely blew it.
So, we got our monthly installment of someone associated with the Knicks embarrassing the Knicks on First Take.