SBD/Issue 90/Franchises

NBA May Investigate Tampering Claim Made Against Thomas

NBA To Launch Probe Into
Tampering Claims Against Thomas?
The NBA “likely will launch a probe into allegations” that Knicks President of Basketball Operations Isiah Thomas “conspired to get opposing players drunk the night before games,” according to sources cited by Mitch Lawrence of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. The allegations, which appear in the sexual harassment lawsuit filed by former Knicks Senior VP/Marketing & Business Operations Anucha Browne Sanders, “could be viewed as tampering — if Thomas had contact with opposing players.” Browne Sanders accused Thomas of “working with concierges at hotels frequented by visiting teams to encourage opposing players to go to certain bars and strip clubs and get drunk the night before a day game.” One league source said that while the “alleged actions ‘seem highly unusual,’ they will probably be investigated.” An NBA spokesperson said the league is “monitoring the entire situation” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/27).

BACK AND FORTH: Meanwhile, in N.Y., Adam Nichols cites a source close to Thomas as saying that Browne Sanders “was offered $250,000 to make her harassment claims disappear,” but she “rejected the deal — saying only a $6.5[M] settlement could stop” the lawsuit. The source added that an out-of-court settlement “was now extremely unlikely.” The source: “If they were going to settle, they would have settled before this suit was filed” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/27). But Browne Sanders, in an exclusive interview with Andrea Peysey of the N.Y. POST, said, “That never happened. ... They want this to be about money. Well, I was a high-paid executive” (N.Y. POST, 1/27).

IMPACT ON THOMAS: The N.Y. POST’s Jay Greenburg cites a source as saying that the fact that MSG Chair Jim Dolan “didn’t just pay Browne Sanders to keep quiet ... is indication Dolan wanted this public as an excuse to get rid of Thomas” (N.Y. POST, 1/27). The N.Y. POST’s Marc Berman writes with the lawsuit, it is “unclear Thomas’ empowerment in making any blockbuster trades” before the February 23 deadline. There is “also a question about his standing with other league executives” (N.Y. POST, 1/27).

COVERAGE: NEWSDAY’s Rieber & Logan note the Knicks referred reporters seeking comment on the lawsuit to a PR firm, where a spokesperson said that the Knicks “had nothing more to say about the lawsuit” (NEWSDAY, 1/27). Thomas left the team’s practice yesterday before reporters were allowed access (Mult., 1/27).

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