Carmelo Anthony, like every other sports superstar, has been heckled in practically every city he's played. As the face of the New York Knicks, he's gotten used to hearing criticism bellowed at him from the stands -- even at home.
But an incident at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 7, 2014, was different.
During the final moments of a game between the Knicks and the Pistons, Anthony can be seen glaring a few rows behind the basket. There appears to be some sort of commotion in the crowd as Anthony looks over.
As it turns out, the man Anthony was searching for may have been Anthony Rotondi, a former stock trader from Brooklyn who claims he was unfairly ejected from that game. According to reports, Rotondi was sitting four rows behind the basket and near the Knicks bench with his supervisor at ING and two clients. Rotondi says he yelled, “Carmelo, you stink!” before being taken away by security guards. Those same guards, Rotondi says, lied to police and told them Rotondi became disorderly and used vulgar and abusive language toward them.
Rotondi was arrested, charged with "tampering with a sports contest" and, two days later, fired from ING after 12 years of employment.
Now the 43-year-old is suing the owners of Madison Square Garden and demanding they release the names of the guards who tossed Rotondi. His lawyer, Amber Locklear, said in court papers that Rotondi was never asked to leave the arena and he wasn't abusive or disorderly.
"Rotondi did not use vulgar and abusive language at the game,” the suit reads. “He did not interfere with the game. At no point did he become abusive with MSG security personnel, and at no time did he refuse to produce his ticket to the game.”
However the video evidence seems to question that claim, as do statements made by a fan sitting near Rotondi. Howard Lorber, the fan who was seated near Rotondi, told the New York Post that Rotondi really yelled, "Carmelo, you f------ suck!" and repeated the curse word.
“I’ve never heard a fan sitting around there carrying on like that,” Lorber said.
Rotondi was likely angry because the Knicks had blown a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter. But, in part thanks to Anthony's game-high 34 points, New York squeaked out an 89-85 win.
If Rotondi's not telling the truth, things could get ugly for him.
“This is a frivolous lawsuit, and we are considering counter-suing this individual," Barry Watkins, head of communications at MSG, told The New York Post “We do not welcome anyone into the building who behaves in an inappropriate and hostile manner and those who behave that way are subject to ejections."