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James Dolan’s facial-recognition tech also targets Knicks critics

James Dolan’s facial-recognition penalties aren’t just reserved for lawyers involved in active litigation against him or Madison Square Garden and its subsidiaries, but they reportedly also affect fans — and even celebrities — critical of the Knicks and Rangers owner on social media.

A week after The Post reported that a mother was denied entrance into Radio City Music Hall to see the Rockettes because her law firm was on an attorney exclusion list, a separate report published Thursday detailed how people allegedly encountered similar problems with MSG security for being publicly critical of Dolan, including one individual who simply told him to “sell the team” online.

Further, the Garden uses a tiered penalty system to differentiate offenders, according to sources cited in a report by Ethan Strauss on Substack.

James Dolan
James Dolan
Michael Simon/

For instance, Merrill Lynch financial advisor Brett Klein claims in the Substack report how he regularly gets flagged via facial recognition software and is harassed at Knicks and Rangers games by security after once commenting, “sell the team,” on the Facebook page for Dolan’s band, JD & The Straight Shot. Klein added how he has received warnings from MSG security at least 10 separate times.

Knicks legend Charles Oakley infamously was ejected from a game at the Garden by security and arrested in 2017, while film director and Knicks mega-fan, Spike Lee, was denied entry via a Garden employee entrance in 2020, saying in part, “Are you going to treat me like Charles Oakley?”

According to the Substack report, Lee is still included on the arena’s Code of Conduct list as a Code 2 offender among a six-category tier, which ranges from zero to five. Code 2 is described as “we know you’re in the building at all times.”

Spike Lee reacts on the sideline during a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden in February 2022.
Spike Lee reacts on the sideline during a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden in February 2022.
Robert Sabo for the NY POST

“Spike Lee is a Code 2, because he’s rarely approached. He might have had a Code 3 status but for [a] publicized standoff with security over his choice of entrance, which generated bad press for the Knicks,” the story states. “When Lee does arrive, MSG’s security team tracks Lee’s every movement with their facial recognition system, per Dolan’s preferences for where Spike shouldn’t be allowed.

“Due to offense taken at Lee’s public comments, Dolan doesn’t want the director ‘back of the house,’ according to a source.”

In the cited MSG code system, a Code 0 offender is not to be admitted to the building at a given event and a Code 5 is described as a permanent ban.

Michael Rapaport attends a UFC event at Madison Square Garden in November 2019.
Michael Rapaport attends a UFC event at Madison Square Garden in November 2019.
Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Code 1 is designated for VIPs, the only positive rating on the list. Code 3 is described as security needing to have “a conversation with [the] person letting them know they know they’re in the building.” This appears to be Klein’s category, based on his apparent description. Code 4 is stated as the need for “a conversation letting them know what they did is not tolerated and not accepted.”

Actor and outspoken Knicks fan, Michael Rapaport, was reported to be a Code 5 designation, fully banned from the property over his criticism of Dolan.

“Rapaport is a 5. He’s banned. He’s going to be approached by senior leadership. Pretty much, his case would be a director or above,” a source said in the story. “Now, the way they do it, they have lawyers that attend every event in every venue, not the clubs, just the venues, Beacon Theater, Radio City, and the Arena. They would have the conversation, too. He would also be approached with a cop, to kind of lock his ass up for trespassing if he did try to put up a fight.”

An MSG spokesman did not return an email message seeking comment.

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