Madison Square Garden's flagrant foul

Another take on the harassment charges against Isiah Thomas.


Sarah Goldstein
January 27, 2006 11:23PM (UTC)

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?

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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.


Sarah Goldstein

Sarah Goldstein is an editorial fellow at Salon.

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