What a lovely sporting landscape New Yorkers have these days. Those who travel to East Rutherford, NJ on Sunday afternoons are free to exercise their first amendment rights by demanding female Jets fans take off their shirts. On the other hand, the poor motherfuckers unfortunate enough to set foot inside Madison Square Garden aren’t even allowed to take issue with the coach.
But enough about David Lee, apparently things aren’t so great for the paying customers, either. From the New York Times’ Joe LaPointe (link courtesy the Gil Meche Experience)
(Zeke, having misinterpreted the chants as “HIRE ISIAH”, assures the adoring public he’s already got a job for life).
A spectator who heckled Knicks Coach Isiah Thomas on Wednesday night received a printed warning card from a security guard to stop what he was doing or face ejection from Madison Square Garden.The fan, Michael Katz, an accountant from Westchester County, said he was not cursing but was merely yelling critical remarks at Thomas, who is also the team™s president. Katz said his comments were within what he thought were the boundaries of fair comment.
œI don™t curse, Katz said Thursday in a telephone interview. œI keep it all within the framework of basketball.
Representatives of the Knicks and the National Basketball Association said the warning was routine and part of a leaguewide effort to control fan behavior that was instituted after a brawl in 2004 in Auburn Hills, Mich., involving the Detroit Pistons, the Indiana Pacers and some spectators.
They said issuing the card was not part of a crackdown against fans critical of Thomas or his slumping team, which, after losing to Seattle, 117-110, on Wednesday, takes a 6-15 record into Friday™s game at Chicago.
The 3-by-5 ½-inch warning card handed to Katz features blue letters on a white background. It reads: œYou are being issued a warning that the comments, gestures and/or behaviors that you have directed at players, coaches, game officials and/or other spectators constitute excessive verbal abuse and are in violation of the NBA Fan Code of Conduct. This is the first and only warning that you will receive. If, after receiving this warning, you verbally abuse any player, coach, game official or spectator, you will be immediately ejected from the arena without refund.
The card had no logo identifying the league, the team or the Garden. It was blank on the back.
Bernie Tolbert, the N.B.A.™s senior vice president for security, said fans must not œcross a line of verbal abuse and that determination of such a line can be subjective. About half the league™s 30 teams use printed warnings and one or two fans a game are warned, he said.
œFans can say things; they pay the price of admission, Tolbert said. œYou can say, ˜You™re a bum,™ or, ˜Your grandmother™s a better shooter.™
Tolbert said profanity was considered a violation of league policy but also that nonprofane comments could be deemed offensive if they prevented players from hearing their coach during a timeout.
Katz said he was about a dozen rows behind the Knicks™ bench when Thomas got up to talk to his team during a timeout in the second quarter Wednesday.
œI said, ˜Isiah, just stay in the chair, because the players don™t listen to you anyway,™ Katz said. He admitted to voicing other harsh opinions and to holding up a page from a newspaper that had a headline and a cartoon that were negative toward Thomas.
œI yelled out four or five different things over 20 minutes, Katz said, adding that no other fan objected. He said the security guard walked up to him from near the court, handed him the card and said, œThis is your warning.