Wendell Cruz | USA TODAY Sports

The Madison Square Garden facial recognition/lawyer ban/state liquor board/tax breaks standoff has flared up again.

The latest event: Knicks and Rangers owner James Dolan hired a private eye to do some Spy vs. Spy work on a part-time State Liquor Authority investigator, according to The New York Times.

From The Grey Lady:

Charles Stravalle, a New York State Liquor Authority investigator and retired police captain, knows when he’s being followed. And the black Chevrolet had been on his tail all day.

Even when he got home to Queens, after some 100 miles on the road, the Chevrolet’s driver remained camped out in front of his house with a camera.

Mr. Stravalle called the police, who later pulled over the private detective on the Long Island Expressway, according to an account Mr. Stravalle gave to the New York Department of State, which regulates members of the profession.

In court papers filed this week, MSG Entertainment acknowledged it had hired a private eye, which it called “a common and lawful practice.” Officials later said they did so to tail Mr. Stravalle.

Stravalle is a retired NYPD captain who makes $33 an hour, according to The Times. MSG claims it was tailing him to see if he was engaging in any behavior that would be a conflict of interest with his investigation of MSG. Stravalle started looking into Lavo, an MSG-owned nightclub in Midtown, after a February slashing. He found 30 violations of the state liquor code, including “unsanctioned fireworks.” Dolan claims Stravalle has been “combative and antagonistic” and has harassed MSG.

The real issue is whether Dolan’s attorney ban violates SLA guidelines and whether the SLA would actually yank MSG’s liquor license. The SLA has also hit MSG with arena-related violations, according to the report, and a disciplinary hearing will happen at some point. An SLA spokesman basically told the Times the board would not touch the license as long as Dolan and MSG play ball. But he has shown no inclination to do so.

Dolan said MSG would cooperate with requests from the state attorney general’s office during his mini-media tour in January. But he has antagonized the SLA several times — mocking agency head Sharif Kabir, suing the SLA and now this kerfuffle.

Anyway, we’re sure NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s copy of the paper will get lost Friday morning. The same goes for NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

Follow ESNY on Twitter @elitesportsny

James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.