You can’t keep a true Knicks fan down.
Lawyer Larry Hutcher, a season ticket holder of four decades now banished from Madison Square Garden, was in Miami to watch Jalen Brunson and company defeat the Heat last week, and he sent a message from the court to MSG CEO, James Dolan.
“Hey Dolan, a ban can’t stop this Knicks fan,” read a handwritten sign Hutcher held up from his seat last Friday.
Hutcher returned to New York and was back in court Tuesday in his legal battle to regain his seat at the World’s Most Famous Arena after the Garden stripped him of his fifth-row seats last October.
“I’m disappointed,” said Hutcher, who has yet to see the Knicks resurface live at MSG this year. “It’s unbelievable that (Dolan) acts so imperious. What I know, what I’ve learned, is that bullies always end up getting what they deserve.”
Hutcher, who was ousted for representing ticket scalpers in a lawsuit against the Garden, watched the Knicks’ red-hot 122-120 win over the Heat while in Florida for the Coalition for Ticket Fairness Conference.
“I really missed the Knicks and wanted to go,” he said of his decision. “I have been a loyal fan for 47 years, rooting for the Knicks through thick and thin. And they should treat me better.”
Hutcher, 71, became a Knicks season ticket holder during the 1975-76 season in their seats behind the basket. But he was barred along with 59 colleagues from the law firm by the pending legal action and forced to watch Knicks home games on television.
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Their loyalty stood the test of time as local hoopsters struggled for decades, with their last NBA title coming in 1973 during the waning days of Mayor John Lindsay’s administration.
In January, Dolan defended his use of facial recognition technology to block lawyers involved in litigation against him from accessing the Garden and his other entertainment venues.
“People say, ‘You’re so sensitive, you shouldn’t defend yourself,’” he said at the time. “It’s like something out of ‘The Godfather,’ like it’s just business. The Garden has to defend itself”.
MSG, in a statement following the imposition of the ban, said the organization has “both the right and the obligation to protect itself during litigation proceedings.”
Hutcher remained optimistic that his court battle would end in victory, adding that he expects a ruling on the case within the next month. If it happens, he hopes to see the Knicks make the playoffs despite his dispute with management.
“If I fly on JetBlue airline, they treat me well,” he said. “American Express, you treat me like a valued member. The Garden is the only place where loyal fans are banned.”