|Former Knicks exec details sex allegations against coach Isiah Thomas|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 11 September 2007 15:16|
Anucha Browne Sanders told a jury of five women and three men that Thomas, the Knicks' head coach and president of basketball operations, would blow up any time she tried to recruit him or his players for marketing campaigns.
``Bitch, I'm here to win basketball games,'' Browne Sanders quoted Thomas as saying in the workplace.
In another discussion about season ticket holders, she claimed Thomas said, ``Bitch, I don't give a (expletive) about these white people.''
Outside court, an attorney for Thomas, Sue Ellen Eisenberg, called the allegations ``unfounded and outrageous.''
Browne Sanders' testimony came on the first day of the closely watched civil trail in federal court in Manhattan. It followed opening statements in which another attorney for Thomas sought to portray the plaintiff as a liar who made up charges to deflect attention from her incompetence.
Thomas ``emphatically denies he ever used those words to or about Ms. Browne Sanders,'' said the lawyer, Kathleen Bogas.
Bogas described Browne Sanders, a 44-year-old former Northwestern basketball star, as a physically imposing woman who was savvy enough to navigate the trash-talking world of professional basketball.
``She's a tall woman - with heels on, taller than Isiah Thomas,'' Bogas said.
Browne Sanders is seeking reinstatement to her job as senior vice present of marketing and business operations. She also has demanded hefty damages after spending five years with the storied franchise.
The plaintiff contends that despite being showered with rave performance reviews and raises for most of her tenure, the Knicks fired her from her ``dream job'' in January 2006 in retaliation for daring to hire a lawyer and pursue sexual harassment allegations against Thomas.
Browne Sanders testified that when she reported Thomas' sexist tirades to Steve Mills, the team's chief operating officer, he told her to ``accommodate him.'' Later, following a Knicks victory at Madison Square Garden, she said, Thomas surprised the married mother of three inside the arena by throwing his arm around her and sweet-talking her.
``I figured out why we have problems,'' he said, according to Browne Sanders. ``It's because we're so alike. I'm in love with you.''
She decided to ``laugh it off,'' she said. ``I wanted to get out of there as fast as I could.''
Thomas, a former Detroit Pistons guard who in 1996 was voted one of the NBA's top 50 players of all time, has acknowledged that in December 2005 he tried to kiss Browne Sanders on the cheek at a Knicks game and asked ``No love today?'' when she pulled away, according to court papers. But he has disputed her allegations that he asked her to ``go off site'' for private time.
Madison Square Garden, which owns the team, insists Browne Sanders' dismissal followed a series of marketing and budgeting failures and came after MSG Chairman James Dolan discovered she had tried to subvert an internal investigation of her harassment claims.
Dolan, also a defendant in the case, decided Browne Sanders ``could not be counted on to do her job after that,'' MSG lawyer Ronald Green said.