Appearing on ESPN’s “First Take” on Tuesday afternoon, director and racial activist Spike Lee complained that he is no longer allowed to use the employee entrance (he can use the VIP or general entrance) at Madison Square Garden and said he was being “harassed” by New York Knicks owner James Dolan.
Lee went on the show to talk about his treatment from the Knicks before Monday night’s game. The longtime Knicks fan, during the 18-plus minute segment, said he was asked to re-enter the Garden after he used the employee entrance, which, Lee later admitted, he has been asked to avoid for at least a month.
“Before the Knicks’ 125-123 win over the Houston Rockets on Monday, a viral video showed Lee arguing with security as he tried to enter Madison Square Garden through the employee entrance,” CBS News noted in a Tuesday report, adding: “Lee said his ticket was scanned before he was told to leave the stadium and re-enter from another entrance. Instead of going outside, Lee said he was escorted to his seat.”
“I’m being harassed by James Dolan and I don’t know why,” Lee said on “First Take.”
“I said, ‘Mr. Dolan, I don’t wanna talk about nothing! I have been coming through this entrance for 28 years,” the famed director recalled his conversation with Dolan, which took place at halftime.
Spike Lee told us this today. pic.twitter.com/dwjh6ZWyre
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) March 3, 2020
During the ESPN appearance, Lee said he refused to re-enter the stadium and told Knicks personnel that they would have to “arrest” him like Charles Oakley.
As noted by Bleacher Report, Oakley, a former Knicks player, was escorted out of the Garden and arrested on three counts of third-degree assault after an incident three years ago.
“Dolan then banned Oakley from MSG, but the ban was eventually lifted. Oakley has been permitted to enter MSG since 2018 but has chosen not to,” the report noted.
Lee said he was done attending Knicks games for the season, but plans on returning next season. “I’m coming back next year, but I’m done for the season,” he said. “I’m done.”
The Knicks responded to Lee’s on-air tantrum by releasing a fiery statement, hitting the die-hard Knicks fan for stirring up “drama” and playing a “victim,” which the team called “laughable.”
“The idea that Spike Lee is a victim because we have repeatedly asked him to not use our employee entrance and instead use a dedicated VIP entrance — which is used by every other celebrity who enters The Garden — is laughable,” the statement said.
“It’s disappointing that Spike would create this false controversy to perpetuate drama. He is welcome to come to The Garden anytime via the VIP or general entrance; just not through our employee entrance, which is what he and Jim agreed to last night when they shook hands.”
The team tweeted out two photos along with their statement, The New York Post noted. “One photo included Dolan and Lee shaking hands, and another was a photo of the Garden entrance at 8 Penn Plaza, which says, ‘Entrance for employees, media and patrons with disabilities only.'”
New York Knicks Statement on Spike Lee pic.twitter.com/19JcvhFKO7
— NY_KnicksPR (@NY_KnicksPR) March 3, 2020
— ESPN (@espn) March 3, 2020
Below is the full segment with Lee: