Three years after a jury ruled Knicks’ coach Isiah Thomas sexually harrassed Anucha Browne Sanders, and awarded her $ 11 + M, Isiah Thomas is still making back page headlines because of his relationship with the Knicks.
The Knicks finally gave angry fans what they wanted–Isiah’s head on a platter–when new president Donnie Walsh relieved Thomas of his coaching duties in April of 2008. But to our dismay, Thomas was re-hired by the team last week to be a consultant, even though he is already employed by Florida International University as coach. Not only is Thomas not dead, but he is poised to become the team’s next general manager and team president, despite the damage he has done to the Knicks on and off the court. Thomas has remained good buddies with Knicks owner James Dolan, as favoritism/nepotism is one of the only suitable explanations for such shenanigans.
At least the league did what it could earlier, when NBA commissioner David Stern announced that Thomas’ new position with the Knicks violated league bylaws.
Isiah Thomas’ official role as a part-time consultant for the Knicks lasted less than a week.
Saving Jim Dolan from himself, the NBA on Wednesday ruled Thomas can’t serve both as head coach at Florida International and work for the Knicks because of a handful of conflict of interests, according to an NBA source.
“After speaking with Commissioner Stern and Knicks executives, it has become apparent that my new agreement violates certain NBA bylaws. Because of this, I have decided to rescind my contract with the team,” Thomas said in a statement. “I have nothing but the utmost respect for Jim Dolan, Donnie Walsh, Mike D’Antoni and the entire Knicks organization, and I want to thank them for affording me this opportunity.”
While the NBA has stepped in to help the Knicks, on the surface, with their Isiah problem, rampant speculation persists that Thomas will be taking over the reigns of the organization soon anyway. While it had been commonly assumed that Donnie Walsh would be picking and/or possibly grooming his successor, we were all painfully reminded who the owner was last week, and that Dolan is going to have the final say with the team he owns.
“Although I’m disappointed that Isiah will not be working with the Knicks as a consultant, I continue to believe in his basketball knowledge, including his ability to judge talent,” Dolan said in a statement. “He’s a good friend of mine and of the organization and I will continue to solicit his views. He will always have strong ties to me and the team. We wish him continued success at FIU.
“I also believe Donnie Walsh has done a terrific job since joining the Knicks and my tremendous respect for him has only grown since he’s joined the organization. I’m confident that the work that Donnie, Coach Mike D’Antoni and their staffs have done this summer has the team poised for long-term success.”
You have got to love this Dolan fellow. In his statement, he basically starts by flouting the NBA’s ruling and saying, “I’m going to do what I like and get away with it”, then he commends Thomas on his “success” at FIU where he went 7-25 last year, and then passes out the backhanded compliments to his own people in the 2nd paragraph.
While Thomas may eventually find himself back in his old digs with the Knicks, look for Walsh to stick it out for a while. He’s not the type to re-sign away any “Knicks money.”