Isiah explains double standard on slurs in Garden trial
BY THOMAS ZAMBITO
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
September 18th 2007,
In his video deposition, Knicks' coach Isiah Thomas says: 'A white male calling a black female a bitch is highly offensive. That would have violated my code of conduct.'
What are your thoughts? Join the discussion
Isiah Thomas was in a courtroom yesterday - not on the basketball court - but he was still playing games.
Jurors heard the Knicks coach say he wouldn't stand for a white man calling a black woman a "bitch" - but wouldn't be as angry if the same words came from the mouth of a black man.
In a videotaped deposition played for the jury at fired Knicks exec Anucha Browne Sanders' sexual harassment trial, Thomas said he drew a distinction between whites and blacks when it came to the B-word.
Asked if he was bothered by a black man calling a black female "bitch," Thomas said: "Not as much. I'm sorry to say, I do make a distinction.
"A white male calling a black female a bitch is highly offensive," Thomas said. "That would have violated my code of conduct."
"Maybe I shouldn't go there. ... A white male calling a black female, that is wrong with me. I'm not taking that. I'm not accepting that. ... That's a problem for me."
Browne Sanders was not taking it from anyone, not Thomas or his star guard Stephon Marbury.
Both are fending off her claims they used the B-word to describe her, an African-American once among the NBA's highest-ranking female executives.
"Now, have I ever used curse words around her? Yes, but at her? No," Thomas said on the video, which was projected on a big screen in a packed courtroom in the second week of the widely publicized trial.
Browne Sanders filed a $10 million suit against Thomas and Knicks' parent Madison Square Garden after the Knicks fired her in December 2005.
Thomas was so stung by the pretrial testimony he gave earlier this year that he made a rare statement as he left court.
"Please don't mischaracterize the videotape shown in court today," he pleaded, insisting, "I don't think it's right for any man to call a woman a 'bitch.'"
Marbury has admitted calling Browne Sanders a bitch but denied calling her a "black bitch."
On the video, Thomas denied ever calling Browne Sanders "bitch" or "ho," as she claims.
"Please, no," he said when asked. "Come on."
He also denied directing the F-word at her or that he was ever interested in her romantically.
"I'm not attracted to her, no," Thomas said, flashing an uncomfortable smile.
The videotape was clearly the highlight of a day in which Garden lawyers had hoped to embarrass Browne Sanders on the witness stand.
They spent six hours grilling her about questionable tax deductions she took and a trail of e-mails she sent to her boss in the waning days of her five-year stint in the Garden's front office.
Dressed in a pink jacket with black slacks, the former Northwestern basketball star remained steady and confident, even as Thomas' lawyers bore in on her to recite the precise sentences used with the B-word.
At least two jurors nodded off during the lengthy cross-examination, but perked up when the tape of Thomas, in a suit jacket with an open collar, was played.
Thomas was asked if he would have disciplined Marbury if he had found out he called Browne Sanders a "black bitch." Thomas said, "As best I could, yes."
http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baske ... lurs_.html
GUILTY!! ISAIAH THOMAS FOUND TO HAVE HARASSED FEMALE EMPLOYEE
October 02, 2007. NEW YORK
- A jury decided Tuesday that New York Knicks coach Isiah Thomas sexually harassed a former top team executive, subjecting her to unwanted advances and a barrage of verbal insults, but also said he does not have to pay punitive damages.
After an ugly, three-week trial, the verdict gives Thomas a partial victory in the $10 million lawsuit filed by Anucha Browne Sanders.
The jury did find that Madison Square Garden committed harassment against the woman,
U.S. District Judge Gerard E. Lynch called it an “eminently reasonable” verdict and said the jury will be asked to return later Tuesday to hear brief arguments on punitive damages.
“I’m innocent, very innocent, and I did not do the things she has accused me in this courtroom of doing,” Thomas said. “I’m extremely disappointed that the jury did not see the facts in this case. I will appeal this, and I remain confident in the man that I am and what I stand for and the family that I have.”
Madison Square Garden also said it would appeal.
“We believe that the jury’s decision was incorrect,” MSG said in a statement. “We look forward to presenting our arguments to an appeals court, and believe they will agree that no sexual harassment took place and MSG acted properly.”
The harassment verdict was widely expected after the jury sent a note to the judge Monday indicating that it believed Thomas and the other defendants, Madison Square Garden and MSG chairman James Dolan, sexually harassed Browne Sanders, a married mother of three.
After the verdict, Browne Sanders hugged family members and friends gathered in the back of the courtroom. Thomas huddled with his lawyers, and was allowed to leave the Manhattan courthouse. Dozens of reporters and cameras gathered outside the courthouse to await his exit.
Browne Sanders, fired from her $260,000 a year job in 2006, sued Thomas and Madison Square Garden. Her case presented the Garden as “Animal House” in sneakers, a place where nepotism, sexism, crude remarks and crass language were part of the culture.
The former Northwestern college basketball star characterized Thomas as a foul-mouthed lout who initially berated her as a “bitch” and a “ho” before his anger gave way to ardor, with Thomas making unwanted advances and encouraging her to visit him “off site.”
Thomas, who was hired in December 2003, followed her to the stand and denied all her allegations. Attorneys for Thomas and the Garden also portrayed Browne Sanders as incompetent and unable to adapt once the former NBA star player arrived as the Knicks’ president.
“That’s not about sexual harassment,” MSG attorney Ronald Green said in his closing argument. “That’s about team politics.”
Thomas, who is married with two children, acknowledged trying to kiss Browne Sanders in December 2005, asking her “No love today?” when she recoiled. MSG president Steve Mills said he spoke with Thomas about the single incident, and the former point guard said it wouldn’t happen again.
In her closing argument, Browne Sanders’ attorney Anne Vladeck made note of Thomas’ charismatic style and incandescent grin.
“There is no question Mr. Thomas can be charming and flash an engaging smile,” she told the jury. “That does not give him the right to treat Browne Sanders like she is his woman.”
Dolan, who testified before Thomas, said he dismissed the team’s vice president for marketing and business operations after learning she was pressuring Garden subordinates to bolster her complaint.
The case, from its inception, proved a public relations disaster for the Knicks and the Garden, with intense coverage of the three-week trial focusing on its tawdriest aspects — star guard Stephon Marbury having sex with an intern outside a strip club, raunchy come-ons from a Marbury cousin to his Garden co-workers, Thomas’ videotaped remarks about the racial dynamics of calling a woman “a bitch.”
The trial did steer attention from the Knicks on-court woes as the team geared up for its second season with Thomas as coach. The Knicks finished 33-49 last year, and have yet to win a playoff game during the Thomas regime.
The Knicks opened training camp Tuesday in Charleston, S.C.
http://www.mediatakeout.com/13071/guilt ... loyee.html