Isiah Thomas Withdraws Ownership Application for WNBA's Liberty

  • Thomas was named president of the women's franchise last month
  • The Hall of Famer was fired as coach of Knicks seven years ago

Isiah Thomas’s application to own a piece of the New York Liberty has been withdrawn, and can be resubmitted at another time, the league said. 

Thomas last month was named president and part owner of the team that’s owned by Madison Square Garden Co.

The Hall of Famer was reunited with MSG more than seven years after he was fired as the Knicks’ coach and head of basketball operations at the end of a tenure that included a sexual harassment lawsuit. MSG also owns the Knicks and hockey’s Rangers.

The appointment of Thomas drew criticism from a number of fronts, including at least one league owner. The league had formed a committee to review Thomas’s application for the undisclosed ownership stake.

“After further discussion and with the season underway, the WNBA and the New York Liberty have agreed to suspend consideration of Isiah Thomas’s application for an ownership interest in the Liberty until further notice,” the women’s league said in a statement. “The process will resume at a future time as determined by the Liberty.”

Thomas’s first tenure with MSG included a sexual-harassment lawsuit by a former female team executive against MSG Executive Chairman James Dolan and the team’s then-parent Cablevision Systems Inc. In 2007, a jury awarded $11.6 million to Anucha Browne Sanders, once the Knicks’ senior vice president for marketing and business operations. The two sides settled two months later. Terms weren’t disclosed.

MSG said in a statement that it didn’t believe the allegations against Thomas were true.

Thomas was fired in April 2008 after the Knicks equaled a then-franchise record for losses in a season, their seventh straight losing campaign, finishing at 23-59 while putting their second-highest payroll on the floor. In two years with Thomas as coach, the Knicks went 56-108. In four seasons with him controlling the franchise, the team didn’t have a winning season and made the playoffs once.

Thomas was a 12-time All-Star point guard with the Detroit Pistons from 1981-94. He was inducted into the sport’s Hall of Fame in 2000.

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