Knicks Exchange Barbs With Super-Fan Spike Lee

The best win of the Knicks‘ season is being overshadowed by a very public disagreement with one of the team’s most famous fans.

During Monday’s contest, a dramatic 125-123 upset of the Rockets, video surfaced of film director and Knicks super-fan Spike Lee arguing with Madison Square Garden security about which entrance he was permitted to use. Appearing this morning on ESPN’s First Take, Lee said he has used the same entrance for decades and hadn’t been informed of any policy change.

Lee referred to the Knicks’ claim that he has been previously told not to use the employee entrance as “spin” and said he’s being “harassed” by team owner James Dolan. The longtime Knicks fan added that he doesn’t plan to attend any more games at MSG this season.

“I’m coming back next year, but I’m done for the season,” Lee said. “I’m done.”

Not content to take the high road and avoid a potential PR disaster, the Knicks shot back early this afternoon, issuing a statement criticizing Lee.

“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 Knicks’ statement reads. “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 of general entrance; just not through our employee entrance, which is what he and Jim (Dolan) agreed to last night when they shook hands.”

Accompanying their tweeted statement, the Knicks attached photos of the building’s employee entrance and of Lee’s handshake with Dolan.

Even if the Knicks are telling the truth here – Lee has claimed again that they’re not – it’s a bad look for the organization, which went through a similar PR nightmare with Charles Oakley three years ago. With Leon Rose taking over as the team’s new basketball president of basketball operations on Monday and Steve Stoute looking to rebrand the franchise and resolve old feuds, the Knicks should be looking to move beyond the petty, drama-filled subplots that have dominated headlines in recent years.

It seems unlikely that most NBA players will take the Knicks’ side in their conflict with Lee. While the incident won’t necessarily be a deal-breaker if a star player is considering signing in New York, it’s another factor that could negatively impact the team’s free agent recruiting efforts going forward. New York is already facing an uphill battle on that front, despite its strong market and cap flexibility.

newest oldest

50 thoughts on “Knicks Exchange Barbs With Super-Fan Spike Lee

  1. harden-westbrook-mvps

    Even when the Knicks win (barely), they still lose in the end.

    • specialfriedrice

      they still beat your Rockets though…it’s like your team wants to finish in 7th or something. Way to tight in the west to drop games like this.

    • @nbabrothers

      Can’t Adam Silver get involved in getting to force Dolan to sell the Knicks like they did with the Clippers?

      • HoopsR

        Easy. All you have to do is find something that was normal to say 10 years ago and now gets you fired today :D ain’t “progress” fun.

  2. oldmanwarrior

    Really? Bless your heart, Spike–having to go thru the VP entrance.
    Really? Bless your heart, Dolan–getting riled up over some bad PR.

    I feel sorry for Knicks fans. This is the kinda crap they have to hear about and put up with, in addition to being a big bag of suck every year.

  3. phillyballers

    Not all Superfans are equal. Drake, Billy Crystal, and Jack Nicholson are directly responsible for 14 championships/titles.

    Spike Lee has brought 0 championships to the NYK.

  4. Theone23

    The fact that that is an actual PR statement from a “professional” sports franchise, is really the only thing that is laughable here. Well that, and the state of the Knicks franchise ever since Dolan inherited the team from his daddy. The true laughing stock of the professional sports world. Thanks for the comedy, Knicks!!

  5. Skip, Tampa

    Spike Lee is such a self serving tool. Probably has new up coming film he needs extra PR for. Always thinks he’s entitled to something.
    Granted miscommunication from MSG is always possible.

    • dimitrios in la

      In addition to being a tool he’s a frickin child. Always has been. He really is a very regressed person.

  6. Reflect

    I actually side with the Knicks on this one. Spike Lee needs to follow the rules like everyone else. You can’t just go wandering through Staff-only areas whenever you feel like it.

    • dynasty in boston

      I’d say Dolan is neck-and-neck with Pittsburgh Pirates Nutting. Both took respectable franchises to the toilet, either through arrogance or penny-pinching

      • rgreen

        Pirates were respectable before Nutting? They’ve actually been a better team in the 13 years since,than they were the 13 years before he took over.

  7. Spike believes because he is rich and famous that he doesn’t have to follow the same rules as everyone else.

    • hiflew

      He doesn’t. The rich and powerful do get away with a lot more than the average person. Where have you been?

  8. Nothing that happens with Spike Lee, or Charles Oakley, or accommodating buyouts, etc., has anything to do with the ability of the Knicks (or any other team) to sign FAs. Even the NY sports media (which can easily be led astray) smirks when they mention it, which they almost have to since it sells with the public. Possible Berman believes it.

    If and when the Knicks can put a good team on the floor, and they have cap space to meet the market, they’ll do more than fine in FA. Even if Spike Lee is protesting outside MSG.

    • Decius

      Dolan is a deterrent to FAs. Who would want to deal with him when you can go somewhere else?

      • Dolan is a complete non-issue to players. Other than the boobs he’s hired to run the team, of course.

        If your right, it should be easy to tick off a few names of Knick players (in 20+ years Dolan’s run the team) that have had to “deal” with Dolan about anything ??

        • Decius

          What big FA have they signed during Dolan’s tenure? They play in NYC at MSG and no stars want their money. Please explain why.

          • Lousy teams and/or (even more so) no max cap space (usually none at all). The two things that matter.

            Dolan is (indirectly) responsible for both, since he hired the FO, but that’s different than he (himself) impacted any player’s FA decision (because they didn’t want to “deal” with him).

            What’s comical about your premise is I think they’ve had max level cap space only 3 seasons under Dolan. 2010 (coming off the 7th worst record), 2015 (coming off the 2nd worst record) and 2019 (coming off the worst record). Elite FAs are generally in their prime, and they aren’t going anywhere to waste years trying to lift a team from the bottom of the standings, particularly the very bottom. The only decent Knick team within 75% of max cap space was ahead of the strike year, when they were coming off a 42-40 team, and (despite Dolan) they got the best UFA on the market (Chandler).

            • Decius

              I just looked up an article about the best free agents when Tyson Chandler signed with the Knicks. Chandler wasn’t even mentioned. Don’t just casually throw stuff out on here. Know what you are talking about.

                • Decius

                  Marc Gasol. But giving out bad contracts isn’t the answer. More money doesn’t mean better player. But my point is Dolan is killing the Knicks chance to compete. How can you be so unaware. Did you know Wade and LeBron were going to head to the Knicks until they met with them. Then they no longer considered the Knicks. Dolan having Oakley thrown out of MSG was a big deal! Quit defending his historically bad ownership. This last free agency window was a perfect example. They were supposed to get stars and instead those stars went to Brooklyn. And Brooklyn is not a good team.

                  • Gasol was an RFA. Wrong again, and I sense you don’t even know the difference. Look, you’re either making stuff up or just feeble minded, or both. It’s also clear your not a Knick fan or know much about the league otherwise.

                    What day was this meeting with Wade, LeBron and Dolan? Wade was going to hang Bosh out to dry?
                    LOL. Even the most casual NBA fans know, at this point, that Wade, Bosh and LeBron had pre-arranged their Miami long before that summer.

                    • Decius

                      You don’t know the NBA if you don’t think Dolan is affecting their free agency pursuits. Bill Simmons talked about how initially Wade, LeBron and Bosh were gonna go to the Knicks until they spoke with them. Then the saw how much of a joke they were. You can name-call or you can talk about the game. I prefer to do the latter. You are a typical message board kinda guy. Loud with the jibber-jabber but light on the facts. Keep it moving, roadkill……

    • lakersfan27

      If this were remotely true then why haven’t they been able to grab a big name?? Durant and Irving went across town to Brooklyn and the ownership had a lot to do with the choice. They should look to Toronto as an example of how to partner with the celebrity fan. Make Lee an ambassador to the brand officially so it makes sense out of him walking through that entrance.

      • x%sure

        “Ambassador to the brand” is an employee? Would that mean that regular employees would no longer complain about him?

        I assume Lee drew complaints from employees, explaining why a 30-year habit is now an issue. There’s some kind of behind-the-scenes story going on. SkipTampa suggested a movie coming out, but why would Dolan agree to suffer to promote a Lee movie.

  9. Decius

    I never thought I would say this, but I may be done with the Knicks. Been a fan all my life but I’m tired of seeing Dolan and his lackeys disrespect the icons of our franchise. I may have to suspend my Knick fandom until Dolan is gone. Losing is bad but being the most clueless franchise in all of sports is another. Nothing worse as a sports fan than having a bad owner. You feel powerless (and you really are). Do something, Adam Silver!

    • stevep-4

      Honestly we in Chicago thank the NBA for having the Knicks in the league every day, it reminds us that it could be worse.

  10. Only the Knicks could make a narcissistic douchebag millionaire whining about what door to use to get into the arena look like the good guy

    • Decius

      Spike Lee should be treated a little better than this. The Knicks are lucky anyone regularly attend their games. The “douchebag millionaire” you are referring to started from the bottom of the film industry and built an empire on his own merit. What do you have to do to be respected?

    • hiflew

      I agree. The first thing that popped into my mind was the SF Giants feud where Jeff Kent was such a jag he made Barry Bonds somewhat sympathetic.

  11. cadagan

    I wonder, what percentage of nba articles the past 20 years are about Knicks disfunction?
    At any point in my whole life, it feels theres always currently some ongoing drama.
    Eddy curry drama,
    Anthony mason,
    Marbury drama,
    Isaiah Thomas forever drama,
    Jon starks,
    patrick Ewing,
    constant owner drama,
    Oakley fan problems….
    spike lee….

  12. x%sure

    It is amusing that a VIP entrance is not good enough for Lee… perhaps it is a matter of principle and is just about how the doors are labelled. 30 years ago, Lee may have thought of it as doors labelled black and white, and so took a stand.

    For Dolan, it could be a security/protection issue– but why now? He could have reason to expect something dangerous coming up, or, it is virus-related. That could somehow draw employee concerns.

    • Decius

      I think it’s more the way they enforce these rules, not that they do so. They don’t care if they approach people in a hostile manner. There is a much better way to respectfully enforce the rules. Dolan is a tyrant. Actually, I shouldn’t put down tyrants like that.

  13. ZacharyH

    Lee has spent $10,000,000 on his tickets the last 28 years, plus his publicity, I think he deserves to enter however he wants. The employees recognize him I Dolan’s an evil maniac

  14. Jason Lancaster

    I’m sure both Lee and Dolan are lying about something. But I know that only one of these people has accomplished something in life.

    Dolan inherited the CEO gig. Lee is a self made man. Dolan can’t handle criticism. Lee has taught at Harvard.

    I know who I’m inclined to believe.

  15. Appalachian_Outlaw

    This is insane. If Lee had done this for the first time, and the Knicks were saying, “No, you can’t do that”… Then yeah, you dig in against his backlash. He’s been allowed to do it forever though, apparently. You set a precedent. Even if it’s a perfectly reasonable rule, you have to see how, years later, it’d be a point of contention when you just now decide to enforce it.

  16. I am sure that Spike Lee is part of the issue here, but instead of sending out a retaliatory press release, could Dolan had not just put on his big boy pants and thinking cap and said something like:

    “Spike Lee has been one of our longest serving and most die hard fans. We do not want there to be any confusion in this matter, not do we want for their to be any ill will between ourselves and our fans. As it appears there was a misunderstanding surrounding the entrance/exit policies for VIP’s such as Spike Lee, we will meet with him and come to an understanding that sees him back in his familiar position at court side rooting on his New York Knicks.”

    Boom, done. Knicks look better for this and Spike really has nothing to argue.

    But no, Dolan has to be petty and fire back to prove he’s right. You know who’s right in this one James, nobody!

  17. Frank Friedlander

    “I’m done for the season,” Lee said. “I’m done.”

    FWIW, the rest of the Knicks were done months ago.

Leave a Reply