The New York Knicks hosted the Washington Wizards on Tuesday in a game attended by a limited number of fans. One of these attendees lasted roughly five minutes before security removed him from Madison Square Garden. The reason for the ejection was his t-shirt saying "Ban Dolan," referencing the owner of the team, James Dolan.
The fan posted a video on Twitter showing the interaction between him and security. The discussion remained cordial overall, but the fan still had to leave the arena without receiving a refund. The security officials could be heard in the video saying that they would not take the shirt from the fan. They would just ask him to wear a different one due to MSG being a private arena.
Just got kicked & escorted out of the Knicks 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 5 mins into the game with no refund?! How does this work @NBA ?! pic.twitter.com/RiSE3tjIHy— ロドニー (@djnessnyc) March 24, 2021
According to the audio provided by the tweet, the MSG staff are allowed to determine what is "offensive information" in regard to clothing choices and messages on signs. The message calling for the ban of the team owner falls into this category. "[The shirt] would be offensive information in our arena," the security official said. "We are asking you to kindly cover it up. We are offering you a free shirt to do so." The security official added that "we are not the government" and that the shirt was not a freedom of speech issue.
This fan is not the first to leave a Knicks game early for criticizing Dolan. In November 2019, eight security officials removed a fan from his seat after he started a "fire Dolan" chant. The fan, Andrew Padilla, was taken to the basement of MSG. The security team said that he could return to his seat upon agreeing to follow the fan code of conduct. Padilla chose to leave and spend his money elsewhere.
"I didn't curse. I didn't act out. I just chanted that the team needed a new owner," Padilla tweeted after the incident went public. "One of the security guards that took me out my seat (and took my ID) was like 'Don't you think he's trying to make a better team?' He being Dolan. I almost feel bad. How fragile must he be?"