James Dolan Rumors
With the league taking all the proper steps, what is Isiah Thomas still doing on NBATV, the channel managed by the league and Turner Sports? In 2006, when Thomas was president of basketball operations for the New York Knicks, a former team vice president sued Madison Square Garden, Knicks owner James Dolan, and Thomas for sex discrimination and retaliation, and a jury found Thomas liable for aiding and abetting a hostile work environment based on sex.
The workplace culture Thomas was found to have fostered in New York was hardly more professional than the one in Dallas. Anucha Browne (then known as Anucha Browne Sanders), who was the team’s senior vice president of marketing, claimed that Thomas at various points berated her, made sexual advances toward her, told her he was in love with her, and called her a “b—h” and a “h-.”
A Garden spokesperson said on Friday, “We continue to believe that Isiah did nothing wrong.” Thomas largely denied the charges, though he admitted that on one occasion he had tried to kiss her on the cheek and had been rebuffed. The Knicks, for their part, contended that Browne instead had been fired because she hadn’t excelled in her role and her relationships with other executives were strained.
In the past decade or so, the NBA has had two prominent opportunities to address the issue of sexual harassment in its workplaces. Both times the league fumbled badly, so that when, this week, Sports Illustrated published a damning portrait of the culture of workplace harassment within the Mavericks office, there should have been little surprise. Both instances involve the Knicks and their handling of the lawsuit brought in 2007 against the team by former executive Anucha Browne Sanders. The league, under commissioner David Stern, offered no punishment of the Knicks or coach and team president Isiah Thomas at that time. The NBA ignored the issue again after Knicks owner James Dolan and Thomas spoke out on the subject in 2015 when the Knicks rehired Thomas to oversee the WNBA’s Liberty franchise. That happened under Adam Silver’s watch. As New York employment attorney Kevin Mintzer, one of Browne Sanders’ lawyers, sees it, the NBA is now reaping what it has sown.
“I am not surprised,” said Mintzer (who does not speak for Browne) of the Mavs’ situation. “As we’ve seen throughout industries, this is an issue that is still pervasive, everywhere. I am particularly not surprised that it is a problem in the NBA given the nonexistent reaction that the NBA had to Anucha’s case back in 2007 and 2008 when it happened, and a few years ago when Mr. Dolan and Mr. Thomas were on TV saying slanderous things about my client eight years after the fact.”
But the fact is, the NBA sent a message back in 2007 when the Browne Sanders lawsuit against the Knicks was originally filed and no punishment was doled out by Stern. That message: This is not our business, and we won’t hand out punishment for it. Silver backed up that message after the 2015 James Dolan- Isiah Thomas interviews on HBO. And here we are. “The message should be that these events — despite what you have allowed, what you have indulged, what you have turned your head away from in the past — OK, clearly it is not going to fly,” Mintzer said. “If you purport to be a progressive league and you purport to have values in which you care about injustice to people’s color and women, but you allow workplaces like this to fester and do nothing when something is shown to be seriously wrong, then no one will take you seriously. “The only time they’ll do something is when there is public pressure to do something. My expectation is Mr. Silver will get religion on this only when he feels he has to.”
The New York Knicks were dealt a devastating blow Tuesday night with the ACL tear in the left knee of All-Star forward Kristaps Porzingis. Small solace to long-suffering fans that the Knicks are the most valuable NBA franchise for the third straight year. The team is now worth $3.6 billion, up 9% over last year and sixth highest in the world across all sports. The Knickerbockers continue to profit from the $1 billion renovations to their home arena, Madison Square Garden, which produced new revenue opportunities from sponsorships and seating.