On Tuesday a video of Spike Lee yelling at Madison Square Garden security went viral. The next day, he appeared on a sports talk show and claimed he is “done” with the New York Knicks this season because he has been harassed by the team’s owner.
The famed film director has been a courtside mainstay at Knicks games for decades. In an interview on ESPN’s First Take, he explained why he was arguing with security in the viral video. According to the Knicks superfan, he used the employee entrance to enter the arena — the same one he always uses.
Security approached him when he was taking an elevator up to the game and asked him to get out of the elevator and re-enter MSG. They instructed him to leave out of the employee entrance and go up the street to the VIP entrance. This is when he began shouting at them.
“I put my hands behind my back and said arrest me like my brother Charles Oakley,” he said on First Take.
A video of the incident in question can be seen below. Be warned that the language used may not be suitable for younger viewers.
— BroTalkLive (@BroTalkLivePod) March 3, 2020
Eventually, the 62-year-old was permitted to go to his usual courtside seat where he watched New York defeat the Houston Rockets. Team owner James Dolan approached Lee to discuss the situation, but the Do The Right Thing director refused to speak to him.
Lee claimed the Knicks owner was directly targeting him.
“I’m being harassed by James Dolan and I don’t know why,” the Brooklyn, New York, native said.
ESPN reporter Malika Andrews reported on Twitter that the franchise said the two men shook hands after the issue with security, and it was understood that Lee would no longer use the employee entrance. However, he refuted this claim to Andrews and said he never shook the owner’s hand.
— ESPN (@espn) March 3, 2020
After his appearance on the sports talk show, the Knicks released a statement on Twitter, saying that Lee can come back to the arena at any time, so long as he uses the VIP entrance.
“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…is laughable. It’s disappointing that Spike would create this false controversy to perpetuate drama.”
Included in their statement was a picture Lee speaking to Dolan at the entrance the director is now prohibited from using. Still, the Oscar-winner said on ESPN that he would not be attending any more Knicks games this season.
"Not this year … I'm done."
You won't see Spike Lee at another Knicks game this season, according to him. pic.twitter.com/jdcNLBeopC
— First Take (@FirstTake) March 3, 2020
Lee responded formally to the organization with a statement of his own on Twitter, through NBA writer Sopan Deb. He asserts that everything the team said is fabricated.
“This press release which is upsetting me is an unmitigated, bold-faced lie. Capital letters,” he said.