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Spike Lee at Madison Square Garden

The buzz in Madison Square Garden during the current New York Knicks basketball season has not been experienced in years. To the amazement of basketball aficionados, a Knicks ticket is a hot consumer item as Carmelo Anthony and Jeremy Lin (before his knee surgery) have converted a lackluster team into a possible playoff team, albeit not one that is likely translatable into an NBA championship. Nonetheless, the early success means that seats on the basketball floor, in what is sometimes referred to as celebrity row, are filled.

One of those seats is occupied at almost every home game by Spike Lee, the filmmaker and avid fan of the Knicks. He is one of the regulars along with Woody Allen, Matthew Modine, and a host of other film personalities. However, Mr. Lee stands apart; he has insinuated himself into the game by cheerleading, confirming referees' decisions, and engaging in trash talk with opposing players.

Clearly one might ask why Mr. Lee has this privileged position. Should anyone else behave in a similar manner, he would be escorted from the Garden. Is it because he is a highly regarded black filmmaker? Or is it his friendship with the players? Perhaps his yearly purchase of celebrity seats offers license other fans do not receive?