Most of the NBA teams have made a public statement about the death of George Floyd, the unarmed Black man who was killed while in the custody of a white Minneapolis police officer last month.
But the New York Knicks didn’t release a statement at first, which was the owner James Dolan‘s decision. That inaction is something that longtime Knicks fan Spike Lee commented on during a June 11 appearance on ESPN’s “First Take.”
Lee gave the interview from his office in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, New York, which is blocks away from the Barclays Center. While speaking on Dolan, he seemingly praised the Barclays Center, which is the home of the Brooklyn Nets, for being a meeting place for protesters.
“Mr. Dolan does not make it easy for me to be a Knicks fan,” said Lee around the 1:00 mark. “I grew up with Willis Reed. I was at Game 7, March 8th, 1970. I was there. Right now, you’re seeing me, this is my office. I’m in the people’s republic of Brooklyn, New York. Fort Greene, Brooklyn, the Fort, and I’m four blocks away from the Barclays Center, which, ironically, has been the meeting spot in Brooklyn for the marches, for the demonstrations. The Barclays Center has been the epicenter for where to meet here in Brooklyn.”
Dolan’s call to remain silent reportedly angered Knicks players and staff, so he released a letter on June 1 to explain himself.
“We at Madison Square Garden stand by our values of respect and peaceful workplace,” Dolan stated. “We always will. As companies in the business of sports and entertainment, however, we are not any more qualified than anyone else to offer our opinion on social matters.”
Dolan was slammed for the letter, and he issued a second statement the following day.
“Yesterday, I made a sincere attempt to provide my perspective on a very difficult issue, one that has no easy answers,” it read. “My point yesterday was about actions, and the importance of living your values. Racism is born of ignorance and it’s up to each of us to understand that the person working beside you is your equal without regard to color, or any of the other qualities that make us diverse.”
Lee’s interview is the second time that he’s criticized the Knicks owner in recent months.
In March the veteran filmmaker sent an Instagram message after he was allegedly told that he couldn’t use an employee entrance at Madison Square Garden where the Knicks play, an entrance that he’s used for many years.
“For The Players On Da New York Knickerbockers. Don’t Git It Twisted. This Is Between Me And Dolan,” wrote Lee after incident, right before he referenced one of his characters from his “Do the Right Thing” film.
“Like Da KnuckleRings Our Brother RADIO RAHEEM Wore In DO THE RIGHT THING-LOVE versus hate.💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜✌🏿✌🏿✌🏿✌🏿✌🏿✌🏿✌🏿✌🏿✌🏿✌🏿✌🏿 Orange And Blue Skies Forever👊🏿,” he added.