Saturday, June 10, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Knicks Fan Sues the Garden for Ejection

MANHATTAN (CN) - A finance trader says he was fired because Madison Square Garden ejected him, in front of his boss, solely for shouting "you stink" to Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony.

Anthony Rotondi, of Brooklyn, says he went to the Jan. 7, 2014, Knicks-Pistons game at the Garden with his supervisor at ING Financial Services and two clients.

ING, where Rotondi had worked for 12 years as an equity finance trader prior to game night, has "season tickets to four court-side seats, four rows behind the basket closest to the Knicks' bench," the complaint filed Monday in New York County Supreme Court states. The action does not name ING as a defendant.

Rotondi says the Knicks had squandered a 14-point lead as the last minute of the fourth quarter ticked away, and that he was "engaging in typical, fan-like behavior" with the other 19,812 people in attendance.

"With twenty-seven seconds remaining, Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony was called for an offensive foul on Detroit Pistons player Josh Smith," the complaint states. "As Carmelo Anthony made his way back to the other end of the floor to play defense, plaintiff yelled from his seat, 'Carmelo, you stink.'"

The Madison Square Garden Company apparently took those three words quite seriously.

"During the next stop in play, and with only 6.7 seconds remaining in the game, Rotondi was escorted out of his seat by a security person" for MSG, the complaint states.

MSG then allegedly compounded the slight by falsely accusing Rotondi "of interfering with the basketball game and for refusing to leave after being ejected."

"As a result of these false and defamatory accusations, Rotondi was arrested and charged with tampering with a sports contest in the second degree and criminal trespass in the third degree," the complaint states.

MSG communicated "these and other false and defamatory statements about Rotondi to his employer" the next day, and ING fired Rotondi on Jan. 9, he says.

"While the Knicks squeaked by the Pistons for the win that night, Rotondi's life was forever altered," the complaint states.

Rotondi says the punishment he has endured "for a harmless comment uttered at a basketball game" continues to this day, as he "has been unable to secure new employment, and has suffered severe and irreparable harm to his reputation."

Though MSG allegedly claimed that Rotondi refused to leave after he was ejected, the trader says he was "placed in an office and told he could not leave by the MSG security person."

After spending the night in jail, Rotondi "accepted an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal," and the criminal case against him expired on July 7.

Rotondi seeks damages for defamation, false arrest, negligence and other charges. He is represented by Eric Weissman with Ropers Majeski.

Brooklyn-born Anthony is a fan favorite among the perennially losing Knicks. A few weeks after the game from which Rotondi was ejected, the 6-foot-8 power forward set the MSG and Knicks' single-game scoring record with a career-high 62 points.


Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.