Dueling Ballers Go to Court – The Tip Off

As I had all but predicted in my recent post,  Quick Take:  Dueling Ballers Go to Court, it doesn’t look good for New York Knicks President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach Isiah Thomas as testimony began today in the sexual harrassment trial which names him as a co-defendent. 

Anucha Browne Sanders, former senior vice president for marketing for the Knicks, and plantiff in the case took the stand.  Her testimony could prove to render permanent damage to the career of the storied Thomas.

She accused him of frequently calling her a “bitch” and disparaging white single and season ticket holders.  After Browne, a highly honored, Big 10 women’s basketball player, engaged a game of  “horse” with Thomas, he started making unwanted sexual advances towards her.

The following is some of Browne Sanders testimony as reported by Fox Sports on MSN:

Knick President and coach Isiah Thomas can be a charmer with a crowd, but a former team executive suing him for alleged sexual harassment told jurors yesterday he’s a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

“He was always starting sentences with the word ‘bitch,’ ” statuesque ex-marketing veep Anucha Browne Sanders testified in Manhattan federal court.

“Bitch, I don’t give a f- – – about the sponsors. Bitch, I don’t give a f- – – about ticket sales. That’s your job,” Sanders quoted Thomas as telling her whenever she tried to involve players in promotional events for the failing team.  Sanders managed to maintain her cool in the courtroom, even as the seemingly unfazed Thomas bizarrely laughed while she talked.

Sanders, a senior vice president for the team from 2000 to 2006, acknowledged that in public, Thomas is “very pleasant and personable. He was the Isiah that we see.”  But behind the scenes, the hotheaded coach, who joined the team in 2003, flew into frequent rages, dropping f-bombs and targeting venom toward her, the team’s only female vice president, she said.

He also allegedly took aim at whites.

Sanders said that when she asked Thomas at one point to hand-sign letters to season-ticket holders, he spat, “I don’t give a f- – – about these white people.”

She said that prompted her to remind the coach that 80 percent of the team’s season-ticket holders are white.

And there’s more:

But she finally cracked when she said Thomas suddenly flipped his approach – professing his love and suggesting they go “off-site.”

Thomas first pulled her aside at a Christmas party in 2004, and the two had joined in a basketball game called “horse,” Sanders said.

That’s when Thomas told her, “I figured out why we have problems. It’s because we’re so much alike. I’m in love with you. It’s like the movie, ‘Love and Basketball,’ ” Sanders said.

I said, ‘You’re out of your mind,’ ” Sanders said. “I wanted to get out of there as fast as I could. I was just nervous.”

By the way, for all of you who asking why she stayed, as I stated in my previous post, Browne, who I interviewed a month prior to her dismissal, is a consumate professional and probably believed she was dealing with rational, civilized individuals who would carefully weigh her complaints and come up with a mutally amicable solution.

And for all you who are making disparaging remarks about Browne Sanders’ physical appearance and questioning why Thomas would make sexual advances towards her:  Sex is not always about sex.  Sometimes it’s about power.  


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