New York deserves better.
The Knicks won Monday night.
Their rookie, and the largest beacon of hope, RJ Barrett balled out.
They beat a respectable adversary in the Rockets, and Rockets superstar James Harden even praised the young and promising Barrett.
But those aren’t the headlines this morning. No, that would be much too capable of the Knicks, a franchise that has been entrenched in mediocrity, disfunction, and ineptitude from the moment James Dolan took over as owner.
The headlines today revolve around the Knicks’ treatment of Spike Lee, iconic film director, champion of equal rights, and most importantly, in this case, the biggest ambassador of the New York Knicks in the world.
Lee was shown in a video inside Madison Square Garden last night, in an altercation with MSG security guards.
“No one told me,” Lee repeats loudly, ostensibly about the fact that security was reprimanding and forcing him to use a different entrance into the building than he has for the past 28+ years.
Lee also referenced the security’s handling of Knicks legend Charles Oakley, who three years ago was forced out of the arena, arrested, and banned from ever entering again, after an incident with a security guard.
It took half of MSG security to take down Charles Oakley. pic.twitter.com/8zcQgRRBIw
— SLAM (@SLAMonline) February 9, 2017
It is worth noting that while James Dolan is the owner of the New York Knicks, the most wealthy franchise in the NBA, he is also CEO of Madison Square Garden. He calls the shots.
Spike appeared on First Take this morning to explain the incident.
“It was a terrible experience. When I went home last night in the cab, I said ‘I’m gonna let it chill.’ Then my son read me the statement by The Garden, I said ‘nah. It’s spin,'” explained Lee.
Knicks issue statement on Spike Lee, calling his claim as a victim “laughable.” You don’t see these type of “statements” often from professional sports teams. pic.twitter.com/vp1Pp261lz
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) March 3, 2020
Lee further detailed how for the past 28+ years, he has used one entrance in the arena, the employees entrance on 33rd street. Last night, for the first time ever, he was approached by security, ordered to leave the arena and told to enter through a different entrance.
“I put my hands behind my back, and I said ‘arrest me like my brother Charles Oakley,’ said Spike. “I’m being harassed by James Dolan, and I don’t know why.”
Lee explained that he should have been notified if there was a structural change at MSG, that he should have received a call.
When his money is one day overdue for his lofty-priced tickets, his phone rings off the hook, Lee noted, so why not when there’s a larger structural change?
Spike Lee's response when finding out he spends roughly $300K a year on Knicks tickets and has given them almost $10M over 30 years:
"I look stupid now." pic.twitter.com/hmuMJttA4u
— ESPN (@espn) March 3, 2020
“I’ve never asked for any celebrity extra. I come there to enjoy myself. My father started taking me to the old Madison Garden, 1967, 68. I was in the Garden May 8, 1970, for the Willis Reed game,” Lee passionately exclaimed.
It is nearly unfathomable that the Knicks can still get these things so wrong. Even with poorly-run basketball operations aside, you’d think the organization would have the self-awareness to know that keeping legends, loyal fans, and ambassadors for the Knicks brand happy would be healthy for business.
For fans of the team and the game. For the Knicks.
The Knicks (essentially Dolan) reek of insecurity and complete incompetence. Was Spike Lee taking too much shine away from Dolan? Were his minimal privileges afforded to Spike starting to annoy the owner that most resembles Bilbo Baggins from The Hobbit?
It is anyone’s best guess, but hopefully, New Yorkers and all Knicks fans are coming fully to terms with the fact that Dolan cannot run the franchise any longer.
When will James Dolan get it? We don’t need the whole story before judging! When you have a reputation of mishandling people that represent the culture of NY basketball, like Charles Oakley — Spike Lee should never have a problem at the Garden. He is the Knicks. It’s inexcusable! pic.twitter.com/hb8aXCYI8z
— Kendrick Perkins (@KendrickPerkins) March 3, 2020
Lee said he will not attend another Knicks game this season.
James Dolan has consistently gotten things wrong in his tenure as operator of the Knicks.
He has done nothing to instill confidence in fans of the Knicks or make anyone believe the team has a chance of competing for a chip in the next 20+ years.
The fish rots from the head, and with Dolan at the helm of the franchise, it is hard to imagine the Knicks’ fortunes changing at all.
New York, basketball mecca, deserves better.