NEW YORK (AP) -Lawyers for a former Madison Square Garden executive suing New York Knicks coach and president Isiah Thomas for sexual harassment rested her case after four days of testimony portraying him as a foul-mouthed lout who loathed and then loved her.
Plaintiff Anucha Browne Sanders wrapped her case up Tuesday with friends and family recounting conversations where she detailed Thomas' alleged schizophrenic behavior - from cursing her out to proclaiming his love for her, all in the space of a few months.
Thomas, his trademark 100-watt smile missing as he listened intently to testimony from the defense table, presents his case along with attorneys for Madison Square Garden beginning Wednesday morning.
On Tuesday, Jeffrey Nix - a 15-year employee of the NBA team - took the stand in U.S. District Court to recount a series of 2004 conversations he had with his friend and co-worker. Browne Sanders, in tones of disgust, detailed how Thomas initially treated her with contempt shortly after his December 2003 arrival in New York, Nix testified.
At one meeting meant to resolve any issues between Browne Sanders and Thomas, the two-time NBA champion guard lashed out at her by calling her a ``bitch'' and reminding her in even harsher language he is the president of the team, Nix said his friend told him.
Browne Sanders also told Nix, he testified, that Thomas had asked her in March 2004: ``What are your job responsibilities, you ... ho?'' Thomas added an obscenity for emphasis, according to the secondhand account.
By the end of the year, though, Nix testified that he saw Thomas embracing Browne Sanders in Madison Square Garden after a Knicks' victory - and watched as his friend pushed the coach away.
``You're not going to believe what he just said,'' Nix quoted Browne Sanders as saying. ``He just said, 'I'm in love with you. It's like (the movie) 'Love and Basketball.'``'
Browne Sanders is suing Thomas and Madison Square Garden for $10 million in a sexual harassment suit that also seeks reinstatement to the job that she held for five years with the once-storied franchise that won its last title in 1973.
Browne Sanders, a married mother of three and former Northwestern basketball star, joined the Knicks in late 2000. The vice president of marketing and business operations was fired in January 2006; she claimed the dismissal came after she complained to MSG management.
Attorneys for Browne Sanders rested their case after calling the plaintiff's sister, Ruth, and her ex-administrative assistant to buttress her claims. They also played a videotaped deposition from MSG Chairman James L. Dolan, who said the decision to fire Browne Sanders was his alone. The Garden claims she was dismissed for a failure to ``fulfill professional responsibilities.''
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