Although he won't get any sympathy from fans paying for some of the NBA's most expensive tickets, actor Ethan Hawke has declared he is no longer a New York Knicks supporter now that the struggling franchise has stopped giving him freebies.
Like many celebrities in New York, Hawke had occasionally received complimentary floor seats at Madison Square Garden. But after he publicly criticized the notoriously sensitive organization - and by extension, owner James Dolan - the 'Reality Bites' star told the Bill Simmons Podcast, the Knicks stopped offering him free seats.
Specifically, during an appearance on 'The Tonight Show,' Hawke criticized the team's failure to keep head coach Mike D'Antoni from walking away during the 2011-12 season.
'I'm being dead serious,' he told Simmons. 'I really was vocal on some talk shows like this that I thought it was a huge mistake to let Mike go and I would have bet on Mike before I bet on [Carmelo Anthony].'
Like many celebrities in New York, Hawke had occasionally received complimentary floor seats at Madison Square Garden. But after he publicly criticized the notoriously sensitive organization - and by extension, owner James Dolan - the 'Reality Bites' star told the Bill Simmons Podcast , the Knicks stopped offering him free seats
Ethan Hawke (right) and guests attend a Los Angeles Lakers-New York Knicks game in 2010
D'Antoni left the Knicks in March of 2012 after star forward Carmelo Anthony returned from injury only to struggle to play alongside emerging point guard Jeremy Lin. D'Antoni's pick-and-roll offense favored Lin, a breakout star in 2012, but Anthony was the Knicks' highest-paid player and the veteran coach decided to hand the reigns over to assistant coach Mike Woodson rather than battle the team's cornerstone.
Now D'Antoni coaches the Western Conference's top seed, the Houston Rockets, who trail the Golden State Warriors 1-0 heading into the second game of their Western Conference Finals on Wednesday night.
The Knicks, meanwhile, did not make the playoffs this season and have had five coaches, including interim Kurt Rambis, since D'Antoni's exit. Anthony now plays for the Oklahoma City Thunder while Lin, who has battled injuries, is a member of the Brooklyn Nets.
'It was absolutely incredible in the way that the organization didn't fan the flames and let Mike do what he wanted to do,' Hawke said. 'Let these guys run. Let them play ball. And instead, Mike's on his way to the Western Conference Final and, you know, the Garden's empty.'
Hawke claims there is only one person at MSG who has it in for him: Dolan.
'One person who owns [the team],' he said. 'They always hooked me up... then I called up one night and they said it would be $7,800. I was like, "Oh, um, why is this the first time you guys are charging me?" They said that you should have thought of that before you went on the Jimmy Fallon Show. I was like, "Wow, this is real." I've apologized many times to try and get my seats again.'
Mike D'Antoni left the Knicks in March of 2012 after star forward Carmelo Anthony (No. 7) returned from injury only to struggle to play alongside emerging point guard Jeremy Lin (left, with D'Antoni). D'Antoni's pick-and-roll offense favored Lin, a breakout star in 2012, but Anthony was the Knicks' highest-paid player and the veteran coach decided to hand the reigns over to assistant coach Mike Woodson rather than battle the team's cornerstone
The Knicks have had similar issues in the past.
Most notably, former Knicks star Charles Oakley was ejected from MSG and accused of being an alcoholic by Dolan, who has admittedly gone through rehab himself.
Oakley, who already had an acrimonious relationship with Dolan, was arrested on February 8, 2017 after being physically removed from his seat by arena security during a Knicks game against the Los Angeles Clippers. He was later charged with two misdemeanor counts of assault, one misdemeanor count of aggravated harassment, and one misdemeanor count of trespassing.
Television cameras showed Oakley shoving security guards a short distance from the Knicks bench, and MSG would ultimately release witness statements from a dozen employees who encountered Oakley that night, alleging that he was physically and verbally abusive. One Garden employee alleged Oakley shouted, 'All of you suck Dolan's d**k!'
Dolan, who took control of MSG and the Knicks in 1999, responded to the ejection by banning Oakley from The Garden indefinitely and in an interview with ESPN radio suggested that Oakley 'may have a problem with alcohol.'
'It is very clear to us that Charles Oakley came to the Garden with an agenda, with a mission in mind,' Dolan said. 'From the moment he stepped into The Garden, from the moment he walked through the doors, he began with this behavior, abusive behavior, disrespectful behavior, stuff you don't want to say on the radio.'
Charles Oakley exchanges words with a security guard while being ejected from MSG in 2017
In April of 2017, Oakley described the incident to reporters outside a Manhattan courthouse.
'I bought a ticket,' he said. 'I was sitting in my seat and eight people walk up on you, and the next thing you know, you're dragged out of the Garden. It's so [disrespectful].'
His problems with Dolan and the Knicks began several years earlier, according to Oakley, around the time he publicly criticized the team for signing Amar'e Stoudemire to a five-year, $99.7 million contract in 2010.
The feud was ultimately made public, and while Oakley claimed he tried to make peace, he and Dolan's relationship never seemed to improve.
'Everybody in New York liked me except this one guy. Why is this?' Oakley told the New York Daily News in 2015. 'Everywhere I talk to people — 'Why aren't you working with the Knicks?' I said I try to. They said, 'What, is it Dolan?' I talked to maybe a million people. He's a bad guy.'
Oakley and Dolan were ultimately called to a meeting with NBA commissioner Adam Silver and NBA legend Michael Jordan, whom Oakley played alongside with the Chicago Bulls before being traded to New York for Bill Cartwright in 1988.
Although he says he's more of a Cavaliers fan now, Hawke was happy to wear a Toronto Raptors jersey at Air Canada Centre in April. He says he no longer gets free tickets from MSG
The Knicks went 506-314 during the six-foot-eight Oakley's tenure, reaching the playoffs in each of his 10 seasons and making it to the NBA Finals in 1994.
Dolan's Knicks have not reached the playoffs since the 2012-2013 season.
In 2015, Dolan responded to an angry email from a fan by telling him to root for the Nets while accusing him of being an alcoholic.
Then 73-year-old Irving Bierman told The Wall Street Journal at the time that Dolan was wrong to accuse him of alcoholism, even if the Knicks owner was, himself, a recovering alcoholic.
'Honestly I had no idea [Dolan] had a drinking problem,' Bierman said. 'I didn’t care, and the fact that he’s been sober for 21 years, good for him. God bless him…[The] last time I had a drink, I was 18. Now I am 73. I mean, how dare he?'
Hawke says he is now a fan of LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, who currently trail the Boston Celtics, 2-0, in the Eastern Conference Finals. He is also seen regularly at Brooklyn's Barclays Center, where the Nets play, and is known to attend NBA games around the league.
Ethan Hawke has become a regular at Brooklyn's Barclays Center, where the Nets play