Column: James Dolan-Spike Lee spat likely makes WNBA fans happy Liberty are free from MSG

Photo Credit: Lamar Carter

Over in Brooklyn, things appear to be trending upwards for the New York Liberty.

While we have not heard much since the initial High Post Hoops report on the Tina Charles front, we must remember that New York will enter the 2020 WNBA season with a new arena in Barclays Center, a new coach in Walt Hopkins and having drafted the No. 1 overall pick.

Meanwhile, back at the Liberty’s former home of Madison Square Garden, it appears to be business as usual for James Dolan and company. The latest snafu involving the Knicks and Rangers owner is a spat with the Knicks’ most famous celebrity fan in Spike Lee. And it involved something seemingly as miniscule as what entrance he used to check into the Garden for a game.

The award-winning director and diehard Knicks aficionado did not see eye to eye regarding which elevator Lee could use to get to his courtside seat at Madison Square Garden. Lee later said that he was “harassed” by Dolan and that he would not attend another Knicks game this season.

Lee, along with the many others who attend Knicks games at the Garden, have had to endure what has been another underwhelming season of basketball in midtown Manhattan. After failing to secure the No. 1 overall pick in the draft (which likely would have been Zion Williamson) and failing to land any top name free agents, New York Knicks basketball has taken on the same tune in 2020 it has for virtually every season since Patrick Ewing retired, sans for the short lived Jeremy Lin “Linsanity” craze of 2012.

Lee also made mention of how much money he has spent over the years on Knicks tickets. It does not matter if one is a run-of-the-mill New Yorker or a celebrity with the status of a Spike Lee – Knicks tickets are anything but cheap.

Interestingly enough, shortly after Lee’s appearance on ESPN’s First Take, the Knicks’ public relations department issued this statement.

Regardless of how this may have been handled by Lee – and a case can be made that he did not handle it well, it did not look nice on Dolan to have this handled the way that it was handled. It made it look less like a simple disagreement between the two and more like it backs up Lee’s account that he was indeed harassed by MSG security and, by proxy, Dolan.

The incident has turned into yet another public relations snafu that the Knicks have become all too accustomed to over the years. These include the spat with Charles Oakley and the constant reports that MSG security has ejected fans from the Garden simply because of “Sell the Team!” chants at Knicks games.

WNBA fans of course remember that the Liberty were also under the MSG umbrella from the team’s founding until early last year when the Garden completed a deal with Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai to have the team sold to the Alibaba executive. Granted, the Nets are dealing with its own issues after the firing of coach Kenny Atkinson, but Brooklyn’s future appears to be much brighter than the Knicks’ given the Nets will have Kevin Durant on their team starting next season.

It is also easy to overlook at times that for much of the Liberty’s tenure under Madison Square Garden that the team was an on-court success, even coming close to winning a WNBA championship and a ticker-tape parade down the Canyon of Heroes on a few occasions. For Liberty fans, seeing their beloved team relegated to Westchester County Center the two seasons Tina Charles and co. called White Plains its home had to be agonizing – and probably interpreted as one last token of appreciation from Dolan to Lib Loyals.

Those same Lib Loyals have to be looking at Dolan’s continued public disagreements with personalities such as Spike Lee and others and have to be thinking that it is a great thing that MSG’s public relations issues are no longer an issue of the Liberty’s.

While Dolan in Manhattan is getting into it with celebrities, the Liberty will soon draft a No. 1 overall pick, which all indications will be Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu. With that plus a new building in Barclays where the team can consistently draw 8,000-11,000 on average, Lib Loyals have to be dreaming with a huge smile of how successful New York can be out of the MSG shadow.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *