Spike Lee: I’m being harassed by Knicks owner James Dolan

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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):

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:

Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports:

Ian Begley of SNY:

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.

Lee:

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.

NBA G League cancels remainder of season

David Becker/NBAE via Getty Images
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The NBA G League shut down play in mid-March, at the same time the NBA did after the positive coronavirus test of Rudy Gobert. However, without a big television contract or much gate revenue, there wasn’t the motivation to restart the G League season, as the NBA is doing.

Thursday the G League made the expected official, canceling the remainder of its season. It will finish without crowning a champion.

“While canceling the remainder of our season weighs heavily on us, we recognize that it is the most appropriate action to take for our league,” G League President Shareef Abdur-Rahim said in a statement. “I extend my sincere gratitude to NBA G League players and coaches for giving their all to their teams and fans this season.  And to our fans, I thank you and look forward to resuming play for the 2020-21 season.”

The Wisconsin Herd (33-10) and Salt Lake City Stars (30-12) finished the season with the best records.

The G League did take care of its players, which was the right thing to do.

With the NBA starting next season in December, the G-League will follow that schedule, with games through the winter and spring. There is a real possibility of expanded NBA rosters next season due to coronavirus fears, which will impact G League rosters as well, but there are a lot of details still to be determined.

Goodbye NBA regular season, hello NBA ‘seeding games’

Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo
Mark Blinch/NBAE via Getty Images
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The NBA regular season is over.

The league’s statement on its plan to resume the season made that abundantly clear.

The 22 continuing teams will play exhibitions, eight “seeding games” (not regular-season games) and maybe play-in games.

NBA release:

Each returning team would play eight seeding games, as selected from its remaining regular-season matchups.  At the conclusion of the seeding games, the seven teams in each conference with the best combined records across regular-season games and seeding games would qualify for the playoffs.

The 14 NBA Lottery teams would be the eight teams that do not participate in the restart and the six teams that participate in the restart but do not qualify for the playoffs.  These teams would be seeded in the lottery and assigned odds based on their records through games of March 11.  The 16 playoff teams would draft in inverse order of their combined records across regular-season games and seeding games.

Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press:

So, the lottery odds are set for the Warriors, Cavaliers, Timberwolves, Hawks, Pistons, Knicks, Bulls and Hornets. The Wizards can’t tank their way past Charlotte and Chicago.

That’s a good setup, which raises a question: Why doesn’t the NBA freeze records for the lottery with a month left in normal seasons? By not doing so, the league creates conditions for an annual tanking wasteland.

Calling these “seeding games” also positions the league to hold award voting soon. The NBA’s major awards – Most Valuable Player, Defensive Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Most Improved Player, Sixth Man of the Year, All-NBA, All-Defense, All-Rookie, Coach of the Year – are regular-season awards. If the regular season is over, those can be picked now. That could be a good way to fill time and attract attention before play resumes.

This is probably mostly semantics.* The term “seeding games” allows the NBA to differentiate these games for the lottery and awards.

*It could also allow the league to cancel more regular-season games and expand force majeure. But owners would still have to negotiate with players on how to pay them for these new “seeding games.” So, that’s probably a wash.

The term also makes enough sense. The 22 continuing teams are playing for seeding.

But what happens if two teams clinch certain seeds before their scheduled seeding game? Would that game still be played?

I’m confident the answer would be yes, even if “seeding game” would no longer be accurate.

“Tune-up games to generate more revenue” just isn’t as catchy.

Report: NBA sets dates for draft (Oct. 15), free agency (Oct. 18), next season (Dec. 1)

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NBA owners have decided to finish the season by holding games between July 31 and Oct. 12.

Now, the surrounding key NBA dates for training camps, free agency, NBA draft and the start of next season are filling in.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The NBA’s reported tentative plan to open next season on Christmas? It was apparently pretty tentative.

A Dec. 1 start to next season would mean an incredibly short break for teams that advance deep in the playoffs. But the NBA is already spending a lot of time not playing games and making money. There’s an urgency to getting revenue flowing.

There will also be a massive disparity in time off between the eight done teams and continuing teams for the key NBA Dates. Who knows how that will affect next season? This is an unprecedented situation.

Which is a good reminder: Coronavirus can disrupt the best-laid plans.

NBA owners approve 22-team format for resuming season with only Trail Blazers opposing

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We already knew many key details of the NBA return format plan for the season:

  • Only the top 22 teams will continue.
  • Games will be held at Disney World in Orlando.
  • Each team will play eight more games (maybe with this schedule).
  • If the ninth-place team is within four games of the eighth-place team after those eight games, there will be a play-in series between the eighth- and ninth-place teams. To advance, the ninth-place team must win two games before the eighth-place team wins one.

Now, that plan is one step closer to becoming reality.

Per Shams Charania of The Athletic, the NBA approved a 22-team playoff format:

It’s shocking the Trail Blazers, owned by Jody Allen, cast the protest vote. Portland – currently outside playoff position – will resume with a real chance to make the playoffs. What more did the Trail Blazers want?

Players must still approve the NBA return format plan. National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts said they wouldn’t necessarily vote on it. Union leadership has worked closely with NBA commissioner Adam Silver, certainly agreeing on the system before having owners vote on it.

However, given the NBPA’s haphazard methods for polling the larger membership, I’m not sure how widespread support is. There is room for significant disagreement on how players – continuing vs. non-continuing – will have their salaries affected.

Still, I expect players approve the plan, maybe tomorrow.

Marc Stein of The New York Times:

Everything is just too far down the road to turn back now. The financial incentives are too high not to keep trying to play. Silver has successfully rallied nearly everyone toward uniting.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Most of the remaining issues are minor details… like codifying a plan for health and safety.

Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press: