New York Knicks superfan Spike Lee won't be at his usual courtside seat for the rest of the season as he and the team engage in a war of words over what entrance he can use.
Appearing on ESPN's First Take on Tuesday morning, Lee said he's taking a hiatus from Madison Square Garden.
"I'm coming back next year, but I'm done for the season," the award-winning screenwriter and director said. "I'm done."
Lee's comments come a day after a video circulated online showing Lee yelling at Garden security outside an MSG elevator, leading some to say he was thrown out of the arena. But a Knicks spokesman said that was untrue and that it was simply an issue of Lee using the wrong entrance.
Lee and Knicks owner James Dolan could be seen shaking hands and smiling at halftime. Lee was in his sideline seat in the second half and stayed through the final buzzer as the Knicks defeated the Rockets 125-123.
Spike Lee tells his side of the story about MSG incident
Spike Lee joins First Take to elaborate on the incident he had at Madison Square Garden Monday night.
Lee classified the Knicks' version of events as "spin." Lee said he had been coming in the same entrance to the Garden for the 28 years he has had season tickets. Lee specifically said he took issue with the Knicks' saying that he and Dolan were socializing at halftime.
"I wasn't shaking his hand," Lee said. "In fact, when he came over, I didn't get up right away."
Lee went on to say, "I'm being harassed by James Dolan. I don't know why."
The 62-year-old Academy Award winner said that despite his moratorium on MSG this season, he'll be back for the 2020-21 campaign. His comments came before the Knicks posted a statement on social media calling out Lee. The post included pictures of the entrance and Lee and Dolan shaking hands.
New York Knicks Statement on Spike Lee pic.twitter.com/19JcvhFKO7— NY_KnicksPR (@NY_KnicksPR) March 3, 2020
"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 statement read. "It's disappointing that Spike would create this false controversy to perpetuate drama. He is welcome to come to The Garden anytime via the VIP or general entrance; just not through our employee entrance, which is what he and Jim agreed to last night when they shook hands."
After the Knicks released their statement, Lee called in to the Michael Kay Show on 98.7 ESPN New York. Asked about the statement, Lee called it a "bold-faced lie." And asked about the picture of him shaking hands with Dolan, Lee said: "My head was spinning. I never had this happen to me ever by the Garden. So I didn't even realize that someone was speaking. And I don't remember shaking his hand." He then added: "That was a setup. They set that whole thing up. That whole thing was arranged. Look at that picture. It's from the roof. The clock above the basket is in the shot."
Lee told ESPN earlier Tuesday that he had already had his ticket scanned at the employee entrance on 33rd Street so he refused to leave, fearing that he wouldn't be allowed back in. He said he told security to "arrest me like my brother Charles Oakley'' -- a reference to the former Knicks forward's ejection from a game and ensuing arrest in 2017.
A judge dismissed Oakley's lawsuit against Dolan and Madison Square Garden last month. He said the incident with Lee, whom he has known since his time as a player in New York, was another bad scene for NBA fans.
"Spike means a lot to New York. All the boroughs. He's a game-changer for black movies, black superstars. He gave a lot of people chances to better themselves. This wasn't fair," Oakley told The Associated Press in a phone interview. "You're cheating the people of New York when you do something like that to a New York native. I know he was born in Georgia but he's been here long enough.''
Longtime Knicks nemesis Reggie Miller also weighed in on the dispute, suggesting Lee should become a Pacers fan.
https://t.co/Vl3sX408ND OOOOHHHHH have the MIGHTY have fallen.. This wouldn't happen at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, maybe finally time to switch your allegiance Spike...— Reggie Miller (@ReggieMillerTNT) March 3, 2020
ESPN's Malika Andrews and The Associated Press contributed to this report.