Just months after berating her in expletive-filled tirades, New York Knicks coach and president Isiah Thomas moved from cursing to courting a fellow executive now suing the basketball Hall of Famer for sexual harassment, a former team employee testified Tuesday.
Jeffrey Nix, a 15-year employee of the NBA team, took the stand in U.S. District Court to recount a series of conversations he had with his friend and co-worker, plaintiff Anucha Browne Sanders, throughout 2004.
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 Sanders and Thomas, the two-time NBA champion guard lashed out at her by announcing, "Don't forget, you f——— bitch, I'm the president of this f———- team," Nix said his friend told him.
Browne Sanders also told Nix, he testified, that Thomas had asked her in March 2004, "What the f—- is your job? What are your job responsibilities, you f———- ho?"
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, the AP reports.
She said that Mr Thomas, a former Detroit Pistons guard once voted one of the top 50 NBA players of all time, told her that he had worked out why their relationship had been so tense. “ ‘It is because we are so much alike. I am in love with you’,” she quoted him as saying.
The court was told that two months later, Mr Thomas, who is married with two children, called her to his office ostensibly to discuss staff questions and gave her a big hug. It was claimed he told her he wanted to go “off-site” for some “private time”. Ms Browne Sanders, a married mother of three, replied: “Isiah, we have to find out a way to work professionally.” The dismissed executive also claimed that her bosses kept a Kama Sutra wish-list for the on-ice cheerleaders for the Rangers ice hockey team, which also plays at Madison Square Garden.
Kevin Mintzer, her lawyer, told the judge that the book “reflected sexual positions and things like that that they were interested in keeping track of versus what they wanted from what skater.” The alleged book could boost a separate sexual harassment suit by Courtney Prince, the former captain of the Rangers City Skaters, who claims that Madison Square Garden bosses taunted the cheerleaders about sex. The court also heard from Stephon Marbury, one of the Knicks star players, who was forced to admit to a sexual encounter with a woman intern, timesonline.co.uk reports.