If you're a major sports franchise that's trying to survive rough times, you do anything you can to keep the fans on your side ... winning hearts and minds is almost as important as winning games. So that's why, naturally, the New York Knicks on Monday ejected a fan for holding up a "Fire Isiah' sign in the stands; allowing a small security issue to escalate into a huge debate on free speech. Fans have organized a 'Fire Isiah' rally for today: 11 a.m., 7th Ave. side of The Garden, if you happen to be in the area. Really, could being a Knicks' fan be any more soul wrenching?
It happened late in Monday's Knicks-Pacers game when a fan seated one row behind the Knicks team bench and only a few feet from Isiah Thomas held up a sign calling for Thomas' ouster as team president and coach. Garden security invoked the arena's "signs and banners policy," which states that "any interference with the enjoyment of another guest's experience will result in the confiscation of the sign and/or possible ejection from the facility."
Interference with the enjoyment of another guest's experience? Then technically, shouldn't Isiah be forced to leave his seat?
Or, as a Times' commenter suggested, what if a couple thousand fans all showed up to the next game with 'Fire Isiah' signs? Does security break out the water cannon?
Just to be safe and helpful, the New York Daily News included a full-page "Fire Isiah" sign in this morning's editions. We disagree, though; as we've said before, we don't want Isiah to ever, ever leave.