SBD/Issue 90/Sports Industrialists

Newsmakers: Isiah Thomas Hit Hard Over Harassment Lawsuit

THE DAILY each Friday offers our take on the performances over the past week of some people and entities in sports business. Here are this week’s newsmakers:

Toyota Takes Checkered Flag
With Nextel Cup Announcement
WIN: TOYOTA — Easily makes the biggest headlines at NASCAR’s annual media tour in Charlotte with announcement of Nextel Cup and Busch series entrance. Secures sponsors and reputable team owners and drivers for ’07, and has U.S. carmakers nervous as they recognize how their new Japanese competitor has dominated other forms of racing.

LOSE: ISIAH THOMAS — Embattled Knicks President in the middle of an ugly “he said/she said” after ANUCHA BROWNE SANDERS, the team’s former marketing exec, accuses him of sexual harassment. The allegations provide sexy fodder for the New York tabloids, which have responded with full-page coverage on the front and back pages. Look for a continued PR battle, as both Thomas/MSG and Sanders are likely to bring in the top hired guns to soil the other.

DRAW: NIKE — The long shadow of Founder PHIL KNIGHT is never more prevalent than this week as WILLIAM PEREZ’s 14-month tenure ends abruptly when Knight and Co. ask for his resignation. A rare public exchange follows, in which Knight claims Perez didn’t understand the Nike brand and business, while Perez claims Knight was a less-than-supportive player. Nike and Knight are honest about a return to company roots, but the stigma around the “Nike culture” returns.

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