The New York Knicks were in the news for all the wrong reasons (again) when the organization got into a very public spat with their most loyal supporter earlier this week, Spike Lee. The team is bad, which isn't new, but things somehow got to the point where Lee was on First Take exclaiming that James Dolan was harassing him. Attempts to save face via PR statements and pixelated photographs were met with ridicule.
But life must go on in the NBA. The Jazz were in town on Wednesday night, and even when the Knicks are as bad as they are now, fans have always gone to the games. It is the Knicks and Madison Square Garden, after all. No level of blunder could hinder ticket sales. Or so one would think.
Wednesday night's game marked the lowest attendance numbers for any Knicks game since 2006. The arena was filled to only 84-percent to capacity. We can't say anything for certain, but it's safe to assume that the poor publicity this week did not help the Knicks sell tickets.
That's pretty astounding when you consider how bad the franchise has been in those subsequent 13.5 seasons. The Melo years were regularly sold out, even if the team wasn't exactly a championship contender, but the seasons since have been bad. The Knicks won 17 games total both last year and 2014-15. Not once did attendance drop as low as it did on Wednesday. Not even after the Charles Oakley situation. And this team is better than those teams! They already have 19 wins with 20-odd games left to play.
As it turns out, having a sultry owner who kicks fans out of games for "Sell the team" chants and offensively bad basketball is not a recipe for lowered attendance when it comes to the Knicks. Fans will put up with that much. What they will not put up with is poor treatment of a fan so loyal to the team they may as well put a statue of him in his courtside seat. Lee is as synonymous with the Knicks as Dolan is-- even more so for casual fans of the sport. He's put up with a lot over the years, but Dolan and the Knicks finally broke him to the point he went on television to disparage them.
Times are tough in New York, and they may only be getting tougher.