Patrick Ewing left town a couple weeks ago, but Madison Square Garden security remains busy.
A Knicks fan published a video to social media that appears to show him being told by two respectful security guards that he needed to change his shirt to remain in the arena during Tuesday’s game. The shirt in question has an orange basketball under the words “Ban Dolan” – a reference to James Dolan, who owns the Knicks and The Garden and is unpopular with large segments of fans.
Twitter user @djnessnyc must have refused because he wrote, “Just got kicked & escorted out of the Knights game @TheGarden for wearing a t-shirt by the homie @fwmj that apparently James Dolan didn’t like?! These tickets were too expensive fam to just get bounced five mins into the game with no refund?! How does this work @nba ?!”
It’s been a month since a limited number of fans were allowed back inside MSG and other New York arenas under the loosening of COVID-19 protocols. It is unclear if Dolan asked security to act, or if they took the steps on their own.
“Our policy is and will continue to be that if you are disrespectful to anyone in our venues,” an MSG spokesperson told The Post, “we will ask you to leave.”
Social media reaction to the fan was mixed, with some pointing out what felt like an obvious attempt to incite a reaction.
“In this arena,” a security guard whose face is not shown is heard saying on the video, “this would be offensive information. We’re asking you kindly if you would like to cover it up, and we’re offering you a free shirt to do so.”
After an attempt to reason that he shouldn’t be removed on his birthday, the fan tried to plead a case of free speech in America and his right to criticize management. Security responded by saying the private arena maintains the right to determine what is and is not allowed on its property. The fan was told he could keep his shirt, but not display it.
“It is within your rights, but not in this arena because this is a private arena,” the security guard said. “It is owned by the individual. We get to stipulate here. We are not the government. This is not a freedom-of-speech situation. We get to determine what is offensive. We don’t allow offensive signs. We don’t allow offensive material. In our eyes, we would consider this to be offensive.”
MSG security operates under intense scrutiny. Fans have been escorted under similar circumstances in the past, and security came under fire in recent years for their handling of incidents of with Knicks superfan Spike Lee and former Knicks greats Charles Oakley and Patrick Ewing.
Ewing, head coach at Georgetown, was heated two weeks ago when MSG hosted the Big East Tournament. He claimed security “accosted” him and didn’t seem to recognize him despite his retired number hanging in the rafters.
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