Yesterday, a jury awarded Anucha Browne Sanders $11.6 million, ruling that when when she was a team executive, she had been sexually harassed by New York Knicks president Isiah Thomas, and that Knicks management had fired her for speaking out.
Browne Sanders and her lawyer, Kevin Mintzer, were live in our studio this morning to talk about the case with Matt. WATCH VIDEO
Every basketball fan knows about Thomas's mishandling of the Knicks -- since taking over as president in 2003, Thomas has received a lot of criticism for his high-profile trades and free agent signings that have been largely unsuccessful. The Knicks have yet to win a playoff series during the Isiah era (and he spent last season as the head coach).
But this case takes things to another level.
The court case gave us a window into the corporate culture at Madison Square Garden and some further insight into Thomas's personality and beliefs. In his deposition, he said that it was more acceptable for a black man to call a black woman a "bitch" than it is for a white man to use that word towards a black woman.
Under questioning, Thomas later said, "It is very offensive for any man -- black, white, purple to call any woman a bitch. It is never appropriate."
Nice backtrack, Isiah.
What's most incredible to me in all of this is that remarkable amount of arrogance -- and, indeed, hubris -- that permeates the culture at the Knicks and Madison Square Garden (note: Cablevision owns Madison Square Garden and the Knicks; James Dolan is the son of Cablevision owner Charles Dolan).
Instead of settling with Browne Sanders out of court, Thomas and Dolan fought this, apparently thinking there was no way a jury would rule in Browne Sanders's favor. They were arrogant enough to think they had done nothing wrong. And they still think so -- said Thomas after the decision, "I am innocent. I am VERY innocent."
The jury thought otherwise (MSG is appealing).
That Thomas should be fired is undeniable. A jury found him to have sexually harassed a female executive; he has been unable to turn the Knicks into a successful franchise despite four years of trying; and as team president, he oversees a culture in which team parties are held at strip clubs where married point guards have sex with team interns in the parking lot (as Stephon Marbury admitted he did in his deposition during the case).
Thomas has to go. But the larger question is how long Charles Dolan will allow his son to continue running Madison Square Garden and the Knicks into the ground. How much humiliation will it take?