Isiah Thomas had a turbulent period during his tenure with the New York Knicks when he was appointed as President of Basketball Operations back in 2003. After Larry Brown got fired as their head coach, Thomas soon became the coach as well and is actually one of the rare people in NBA history that at one point, was serving as a head coach, GM, and President of Basketball Operations.
Thomas had a turbulent tenure with the Knicks
His time with the Knicks was an absolute disaster, and it lasted until 2008, when he stepped down from all of his duties after the fans and the owners expressed their disappointment in his results with the team. As the main person in charge of the Knicks then, Thomas signed the wrong players on big contracts and traded for players that didn't bring any value to the team.
With all these basketball-related issues, Thomas also faced a problem with a sexual harassment accusation from Anucha Browne Sanders, who at that time worked for the New York Knicks as an executive. At the time, she filed an employment and harassment lawsuit against the Madison Square Garden Company, saying that Thomas sexually harassed her in the workplace, which resulted in her getting fired because she complained about the harassment. According to some sources, the case was settled for $11.5 million, but it stained Thomas and his reputation around the league when he needed to be solely focused on basketball.
He finally cleared the air about what really happened
In a recent interview with Peter Vecsey from NBAAlumni, Thomas wanted to clear out the air about what happened with Anucha Browne Sanders and said something really interesting and actually rather fascinating. Thomas stated he never had a relationship with her, but Stephon Marbury, who played for the Knicks at the time, was having an affair with her intern, which was why he was accused in court. Thomas clarified he was accused of being liable for contributing to a hostile work environment because he didn't stop Marbury in his romance with her intern.
"I didn't have a relationship with her; I was the coach of the team. Madison Square Garden was accused of having a hostile working environment, and I was a coach of the basketball team, I didn't work in the office. I had a player by the name of Stephon Marbury who was having an affair with an intern that was working under Anuka Brown Sanders. What I was accused of in court, not in the media but in the court. I was liable for contributing to a hostile work environment because I didn't have control over my player, that was affecting this situation. She won a wrongful termination suit. I was the coach, but the way the media wrote it, I guess it was more sexier to use me, so here we are today."
According to Thomas, the media were after him at the time because he was the well-known name in this case, and Marbury was somehow left off the hook, and his affair was swept under the rug, and the media didn't cover it all. The media members needed a big name to sell the story and completely neglected the real truth about this case and decided to use Thomas as the scapegoat, not even stating the real reason why he was in court in the first place.
Luckily for Thomas, people around the NBA knew he was wrongfully accused and that he was not the type of person that would even think of commiting such a crime against other women. It's also great he was finally able to openly discuss what really happened during a pretty dark period of his career that was full of disappointments with the Knicks but also a court case that could have made a lot more damage to his career and personal life. It's also an important lesson about how the media can misinterpret facts and diminish a person's reputation without having almost zero blame for their lack of honest and quality reporting.