After spending decades sitting courtside, Spike Lee said he was refused entry to a New York Knicks game this week.
The Oscar winning director visited ESPN’s First Take to add context to a video of what appeared to be security guards refusing him entry into Madison Square Garden. Lee said that he entered the facility at the 33rd Street entrance, the same way he has done for over twenty years, and after having his ticket scanned, he was told to enter another way by security.
“They wanted me to leave the Garden, walk outside… and come back on 31st Street. And I said I’m not doing that,” Lee said. He added that he was afraid he would not be able to regain access to the building because his ticket number had already been recorded by employees.
“First of all, you scanned my ticket, you can’t scan it twice. And I know once you leave a sporting event, you can’t come back in. I don’t trust these guys, so I’m not going for the okey-doke. So I said I’m not leaving,” Lee said.
He believes the incident was a “set-up,” orchestrated by the team’s owner James Dolan.
“I’m being harassed by James Dolan,” Lee explained, “and I don’t know why.”
The Knicks have refuted Lee’s claims. “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 organization said in a statement.
The statement accused Lee of conjuring “false controversy to perpetuate drama,” and said that Lee made an agreement with the owner to no longer use the employee entrance. Lee says this never happened.
It ended with an assertion that the director was welcome to return to the Garden at any time provided he did not use the employee entrance he typically uses.
In the video, Lee compared the treatment he received to that of Charles Oakley, the former Knicks power forward who was forcibly ejected from the facility and arrested.
“I’m coming back next year, but I’m done for the season,” said Lee, then stressing. “I’m done.”