The Knicks outlasted the Houston Rockets in front of new team president Leon Rose thanks to a victory-sealing bucket from RJ Barrett, but the biggest story from Monday night’s game is a dispute between Spike Lee and James Dolan.
The spat stems from the famous film director being told he couldn’t enter the arena through his usual entrance. The entire situation is completely ridiculous, and both sides are to blame. But you shouldn’t just blindly accept declarative statements without being presented evidence, so let’s look at what went down and try to assess the damage.
Video emerges of Spike arguing with MSG security
By the time the Knicks had put up 36 in an explosive first quarter, the internet was aware of the video that started this whole mess.
In it, Lee can be heard arguing with Madison Square Garden security and demanding to know why he’s not allowed to enter the arena using the employee entrance, which is apparently how he has been getting into the building for years. The video certainly doesn’t sound or look good, with Lee raising his voice to shout “no one told me” and likening the ordeal to Charles Oakley’s ejection from MSG in 2017.
The thing is, Lee ended up watching the game — which the Knicks won 125-123 — from his usual courtside seat. Thus, despite a bunch of social media malarkey, it seemed as though this was much ado about nothing. The Knicks even implied that any beef had already been squashed, with a spokesman for the team telling the Associated Press that rumors Lee had been tossed from The Garden were untrue, and that “it was simply an issue of Lee using the wrong entrance.”
That AP story also noted that Lee and Dolan spoke at halftime “to resolve the issue,” so reasonable people went to bed thinking mostly about the cajones of players like Barrett, Mitchell Robinson and Frank Ntilikina.
Terrific all-around performance for RJ Barrett in the win over the Rockets:— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) March 3, 2020
27 points (on 10-of-18 shooting)
3 made 3-pointers
And the clutch game-winner over PJ Tucker:
Mitch is like "get outta here puny humans" pic.twitter.com/ibeygFAjVa— Posting and Toasting (@ptknicksblog) March 3, 2020
Best sequence from last night’s game. Frank tries to Harden Harden but misses the shot, then draws a charge on the very next play. pic.twitter.com/ELsEszTOBp— BennyBuckets (@BenjaminBucket4) March 3, 2020
The sun rises, and Spike Lee goes on ESPN’s First Take
This shouldn’t have happened. Before we dig in, here’s the interview in its entirety:
It sounds like MSG doesn’t want Lee entering through the employee entrance anymore, which, whatever. Who cares. Except they didn’t do a good job of informing Lee, who says he was abruptly halted and told to exit the building in order to come back in through a different entrance. None of this should be boiling anyone’s blood.
Lee said MSG’s version of things was “Garden spin,” evoked Oak, complained about the “astronomical” price he pays for his courtside seats, and said people “walk on eggshells” in MSG because they are afraid one wrong move will mean facing the wrath of ownership.
Spike declared that he’s done going to Knicks games this season, but said he’ll be back next year. He seemed upset that the Knicks tried to smooth things over without actually smoothing things over with him.
The television appearance was regrettable and served to remind us of Steve Stoute’s recent go-round on First Take, but wait a minute - the Knicks beat the Rockets last night. It was a thrilling victory and provided a glimmer of hope for the budding Leon Rose era. That’s what we should be talking about. Hopefully after Spike stopped by ESPN, the Knicks just let the story die.
The Knicks refuse to let the story die. In fact, they pour gasoline all over the story and shoot flamethrowers at it
The Knicks’ next move, which has a distinctly Dolan smell, was so petty that there’s nothing else to say except this introductory sentence:
New York Knicks Statement on Spike Lee pic.twitter.com/19JcvhFKO7— NY_KnicksPR (@NY_KnicksPR) March 3, 2020
This is all so dumb
The Knicks should be able to handle matters like this without everything blowing up in their face, yet time and time again the team forces its way into the news in an unseemly fashion.
Lee has been an iconic Knicks fan for a long time, and his presence on the sidelines is etched into MSG lore. But he could have helped the team he roots for by not going on First Take and instead just using a different entrance going forward, or attempting to quietly work out a deal with Dolan in private. Because of Lee’s need to go tit for tat with Dolan, we’re left talking about the bickering between Spike and the Knicks instead of a spectacular showing from a 19 year old rookie.
Let’s hope the Knicks don’t ban Spike from the arena, and pray that this isn’t a big publicity play that ends with Lee buying season tickets for the Brooklyn Nets next year. Regardless, Lee and Dolan need to realize that they don’t actually matter all that much to the people watching the Knicks.
We just want to hear James Harden talk about the promising young Knicks rookie who handed him a loss at The Mecca.