Spike Lee on Knicks Dispute: ‘Dolan Is Harassing Me’

Written by on March 3, 2020

Spike Lee, the Oscar-winning filmmaker and most well-known fan of the Knicks, has accused the franchise and its proprietor, James L. Dolan, of repeatedly mendacity about why he was stopped shortly after getting into Madison Sq. Backyard earlier than a recreation on Monday night time.

Lee mentioned he wouldn’t be returning for one more Knicks house recreation this season.

“I used to be praying, hopefully, that the Knicks would put in an excellent effort, so it may very well be a aggressive recreation,” Lee advised The New York Occasions in a cellphone interview on Tuesday. “That is the very last thing I needed.”

At dispute is which entrance Lee can use to attend video games. Lee mentioned he had used an entrance on West 33rd Avenue for almost 30 years, together with as not too long ago as final week; that entrance is often reserved for the information media, staff and attendees who’re disabled.

However on Monday, because the Knicks ready to face the Houston Rockets, Lee mentioned he went by the doorway, had his ticket scanned and was stopped by Madison Sq. Backyard workers members, who advised him he needed to go away and re-enter elsewhere. Lee declined, he mentioned, as a result of his ticket had already been scanned. This led to a heated confrontation, video of which rapidly went viral on social media. The Knicks later mentioned — and Lee denied — that he had been advised a number of instances to not use that entrance.

“The concept Spike Lee is a sufferer as a result of we’ve repeatedly requested him to not use our worker entrance and as a substitute use a devoted V.I.P. entrance — which is utilized by each different celeb who enters The Backyard — is laughable,” the Knicks said in a statement on Tuesday after Lee appeared on ESPN’s “First Take” tv present to debate the incident. “It’s disappointing that Spike would create this controversy to perpetuate drama.”

In an interview with The Occasions, Lee fired again: “What’s laughable is how the Knicks are the laughingstock of the league.”

The back-and-forth between Lee and the Knicks, particularly the workforce’s slicing assertion on Tuesday, appeared to encapsulate the Knicks of the Dolan period. Slightly than making an attempt to de-escalate rigidity, the workforce alienated a person who has remained loyal to the franchise by its many lows and who’s as linked with the workforce as any participant.

“This press launch, which is upsetting me, is an unmitigated, baldfaced lie,” Lee mentioned. “Capital letters. On my late mom and my late brother’s grave, it is a lie. That they are saying that that they had repeatedly requested me to not use the worker entrance. That may be a lie.”

Earlier, in a textual content message to The Occasions, Lee mentioned, “Dolan is harassing me,” echoing feedback he made on ESPN.

Lee ultimately made it to his standard courtside seat on Monday. At one level he shook palms with Dolan, a gesture proven in {a photograph} that was tweeted on the Knicks’ public relations account on Tuesday. It was accompanied by a statement that mentioned of Lee: “He’s welcome to return to The Backyard anytime through the V.I.P. entrance; simply not by our worker entrance, which is what he and Jim agreed to final night time after they shook palms.”

Lee advised The Occasions he thought that the photograph was “deliberate,” calling it “a set-up photograph op.”

“At halftime, Mr. Dolan involves my seat and says, ‘We have to speak.’ And I mentioned, ‘Speak about what?’ ‘We have to speak.’ I mentioned, ‘Mr. Dolan, nobody advised me. I’ve not been knowledgeable by texts, emails, cellphone calls that there’s a brand new coverage on utilizing the worker entrance. Nobody advised me,’” Lee mentioned.

As for the handshake?

Lee initially mentioned he had not shaken Dolan’s hand however later acknowledged that he was mistaken.

“If I shook palms, you understand what? I used to be not in my proper thoughts, so I’ll retract that assertion,” Lee mentioned. “To start with, I didn’t need to communicate to him. It wasn’t till midway by the dialog once I obtained out of my seat.”

Lee mentioned that even earlier than the incident, he didn’t have a lot of a relationship with Dolan.

“I went to 1 picnic,” Lee mentioned. “That’s it. I’m courteous. If I see him, I say whats up. That’s it. We’re not having any dialog.”

Within the meantime, Lee mentioned along with his well-known cackle, he has already been approached by the Nets, the Knicks’ crosstown rivals, to attend video games. The Nets took a dig on the Knicks on social media, posting an image of Lee shaking palms with their star Kevin Durant, together with a caption that mentioned, “What’s this a few handshake photograph?” The workforce later deleted the submit.

“I’m not going to let anyone take away my love for the orange and blue skies,” Lee mentioned, referring to the Knicks’ colours. “It’s not taking place. I want the Nets luck. However that ain’t taking place.”

This incident was the most recent twist in an unusually dramatic season for the Knicks — even by the franchise’s requirements for grabbing undesirable headlines. This feud has overshadowed what was presupposed to be a jubilant first day of labor for the brand new workforce president, Leon Rose, and Monday’s thrilling 125-123 win over the playoff-bound Rockets.

The Knicks will most certainly miss the playoffs for the seventh straight 12 months — the longest streak of postseason absences for the franchise for the reason that 1960s. After years of attendance numbers that appeared proof against poor on-court efficiency, the crowds at Knicks video games have begun to say no. However Lee, till now, has been a continuing.

Now the Knicks will discover themselves with out one in every of their most devoted followers. The battle recalled the 2017 incident when Dolan barred the beloved former Knick Charles Oakley from the sector.

In response to Lee, when workers members stopped him on Monday, he demanded to be arrested like Oakley. In the course of the phone interview, Lee mentioned he had already heard from Oakley, plus Mark Cuban, the Dallas Mavericks proprietor, and Reggie Miller, the previous Indiana Pacers guard who bedeviled the Knicks within the 1990s, usually mere ft away from Lee. Miller additionally poked fun at Lee on Twitter on Tuesday, encouraging him to develop into a Pacers fan.

Lee mentioned he felt that he was being focused personally by Dolan, however he wouldn’t speculate as to why. He added that he needed Dolan to promote the workforce — “however that’s not going to occur.”

His feedback quickly turned to the existential.

“I went to mattress final night time. You recognize what I used to be fascinated with? Am I going to go to the grave with out one other banner being raised on the planet’s most well-known area?” Lee mentioned.

Then he added: “Hey, I don’t prefer to predict the longer term, however I’m 62 years previous. How lengthy have I obtained left?”

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