Renowned director and New York Knicks superfan Spike Lee slammed Knicks owner James Dolan after he was initially denied entrance to Madison Square Garden on Monday as his Knicks took on the red-hot Houston Rockets.
Lee went on ESPN’s “First Take” to clarify what went on after a report from Marc Berman of the New York Post noted the famous director attempted to use the employee and media entrance to the arena instead of the VIP entrance, something he had supposedly been told about in prior instances.
Lee spoke on the matter for the first time:
“I’ve been using the same entrance for 20-plus years, the employee’s entrance on 33rd Street,” he said. “Yesterday, last night, I go in, my tickets gets scanned. I’m in. I go on the elevator … and the elevator is not moving and this security guy comes in and says, ‘We need you to get off the elevator.’ I said, ‘For what?’ He goes, ‘We can’t speak about it now,’ and I said, ‘I’m not getting out of the elevator’ …
“I go up to five [the fifth floor] and security is waiting for me like I just ran out of Macy’s stealing something. And this security guy, this comes from the top, he says, ‘Mr. Lee, you have to leave Madison Square Garden.’ They wanted me to leave The Garden, walk outside, out to 33rd Street, where I came from, walk outside and come back on 31st Street. And I said, ‘I’m not doing that.’ First of all, you scanned my ticket. You can’t scan a ticket twice. Also I know once you leave a sporting arena, you can’t come back in. I don’t trust these guys, so I’m not going for the okie-doke.”
— ESPN (@espn) March 3, 2020
According to Berman’s report, Lee had reportedly used this other entrance before and was told to refrain, something he is clearly seen denying in this video:
— BroTalkLive (@BroTalkLivePod) March 3, 2020
Lee clearly said during the interview that the orders to deny him access came from the top. He mentions that after refusing to leave the premises and asking to be arrested “like my brother Charles Oakley,” he got in touch with people he knew and made his way to the sixth floor so they could walk him to his seat.
Lee was confronted by Dolan himself, who told him they needed to talk:
“I said, ‘Mr. Dolan I don’t want to talk about nothing,'” said Lee on ESPN. “I’ve been coming through this entrance for 28 years.”
Lee also said he went through that very employee entrance last Wednesday for an event, and if they had changed the rules, he was not told about it. He took issue with how all of this was characterized, calling it “Garden spin” and accusing Dolan of harassment:
"I'm being harassed by James Dolan and I don't know why."
—Spike Lee pic.twitter.com/ca28qHYN63
— First Take (@FirstTake) March 3, 2020
Lee was able to make it to his seat on time and got to see his beloved Knicks get one of their biggest wins of the season, topping the Rockets 125-123 in the first official game of the Leon Rose era.
The Knicks overcame 20-plus-point nights from four of the Rockets’ starters — including a game-high 35 points from James Harden — to snap Houston’s six-game winning streak, but something says this fiasco won’t go away, even if the Knicks are in high spirits after this victory. Lee himself even said he doesn’t plan on coming back for another game this season.
Welcome to the Knicks, Leon Rose!