Madison Square Garden's flagrant foul

Another take on the harassment charges against Isiah Thomas.

Published January 27, 2006 6:23PM (EST)

In true loser form that Knicks fans have long grown accustomed to, Tuesday brought another blow in a six-game losing streak. As Lynn Harris informed us earlier this week, a woman had to come and scuff up the court calling sexual harassment. Knicks executive Anucha Browne Sanders filed a lawsuit against former basketball star and current Knicks president Isiah Thomas and Madison Square Garden to the usual fanfare that a New York City sports-sex scandal meets. Even point guard and Brooklyn's beloved son Stephon Marbury is named in the suit.

It may look suspicious to a country long tired of sexual harassment claims against America's rich and famous men, that by going after a whole franchise, which is likely more willing to settle than Thomas, Sanders is just digging for gold. But let's get past, for a moment, what is otherwise the central question here -- whether Sanders was sexually harassed. In fact, I'm not even sure such a question is necessarily relevant. As Broadsheet posted earlier, a recent study by the American Association of University Women points out that nearly two-thirds of college students experience sexual harassment. If these kinds of statistics are any indication for what happens in the workplace -- especially one dominated by men -- why shouldn't we assume Sanders was harassed?

In court papers Sanders says Thomas berated her repeatedly, made advances and told players not to take direction from her. Madison Square Garden's lawyer quickly shot back, saying Sanders' suit was a "cynical attempt" to milk Thomas for his "celebrity status." Well sure, Thomas is not just Joe Schmo at the water cooler saying you've got a nice rack, but then again, he is just Joe Schmo saying you've got a nice rack. For all the nasty backlash that it will inevitably bring to Sanders, what such a lawsuit does, if only for a moment, is draw attention to the mundane repetition of women getting harassed on the job, at school and on the street. So maybe -- and this is coming from a dyed-in-the-wool Knickerbocker fan -- suing the entire corporation, bringing down the whole damn house, at least symbolically, is the way to go.

By Sarah Goldstein

Sarah Goldstein is an editorial fellow at Salon.

MORE FROM Sarah Goldstein

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Basketball Broadsheet Love And Sex