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ATLANTA, GEORGIA - OCTOBER 05: Spike Lee attends Tyler Perry Studios grand opening gala at Tyler Perry Studios on October 05, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Tyler Perry Studios)

Academy Award-winning director Spike Lee was recently denied access to Madison Square Garden during a Knicks game. The famed filmmaker was stopped by security allegedly because he used the employee entrance (one Lee says he’s been using for “28 years.”) instead of the VIP entrance, as Gothamist reports.

“No one told me. No one told me.  I’m standing here. Now, are you going to arrest me like Charles Oakley?’’ Lee was heard saying to security.


According to a spokesperson for MSG, Lee was never ejected and the filmmaker spoke with James Dolan, MSG’s CEO during halftime. The spokesperson also told the Post that Lee “is no longer angry.”

Apparently, the spokesperson hadn’t directly talked to Lee because he appeared on ESPN’s First Take show and went off regarding Dolan and the experience that he had. “I’m being harassed by James Dolan and I don’t know why,” Lee said during the interview.

During the interview, Lee explained that he’s been entering Madison Square Garden by using the employees’ entrance on 33rd street for almost 30 years. “I’ve been using the same entrance for 28 plus years,” he said. The filmmaker claimed that his ticket was scanned, he was taken to the elevator, and up to the fifth floor, “and security was waiting for me like I just ran out of Macy’s stealing something.”

“The security guy says—this comes from the top—‘Mr. Lee, you have to leave Madison Square Garden.’ They wanted me to leave the Garden, walk outside, out to the 33rd Street employee entrance where I came from, and come back on 31st Street. I said, ‘I’m not doing that,’” Lee said. “First of all, you scanned my ticket, you can’t scan a ticket twice. And I know once you leave a sporting arena event, you can’t come back in. So I don’t trust these guys, so I’m not going for the okey-doke…So I said I’m not leaving. They said, ‘We want you to leave the Garden.’ I put my hands behind my back and I said, ‘Arrest me like my brother Charles Oakley.’”

Lee confirmed that Dolan did come to him at halftime.”I said Mr. Dolan, I don’t want to talk about nothing. I’ve been coming through this entrance for 28 years.” The director also shared that just last week, he was at MSG for an event and he had used the same entrance. However, no one informed him that he couldn’t use it. He referred to the statement that MSG issued regarding him and Dolan meeting as “Garden spin.”

During the interview, the cohosts noted that Spike Lee has spent almost $300K a season on tickets to see the Knicks, costing the director almost $10 million over almost the last three decades.  “I look stupid now,” Lee replied.

Lee was also asked by Stephen A. Smith how he feels regarding people who have been critical of the director for expecting preferential treatment. “In my heart, I’m still the kid from Brooklyn that was sneaking in the Garden. I love the Knicks, those are my guys. I grew up with Willis Reed, Red Holzman, Dick Barnett, Cazzie Russell, Dave Stallworth, Nate Bowman, Bill Bradley. Those are my guys!” Lee said.

“It’s a shame, I look up at the roof and you see the banner from ’72-’73! That’s the last time we had a banner! I think, am I going to die before we win another championship? Is my son, who is 24, going to die before we win another championship?”


Glennisha Morgan is a Detroit-bred multimedia journalist and writer. She writes about intersectionality, hip-hop, pop culture, queer issues, race, feminism, and her truth. Follow her on Twitter @GlennishaMorgan.