Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Color Me Not Surprised

Sexual Harassment Suit Filed Against Thomas and Garden

A former high-level Knicks executive filed a lawsuit yesterday accusing Isiah Thomas, the team's president, of sexual harassment and discrimination, saying he had made unwanted advances, cursed her and barred players from working with her on community events.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court in Manhattan, the executive, Anucha Browne Sanders, said that Thomas refused to stop his actions despite her protests and discomfort, and that her immediate supervisor, Steve Mills, the president of Madison Square Garden Sports, did nothing to intercede on her behalf.

Why the defendants *should* settle:

1. Sanders has got a great lawyer, one of the top employment discrimination lawyers in New York: Judith Vladeck. I can hear her cigarette-scarred voice now. She wouldn't have taken this case without thoroughly evaluating it first. They've got something here.

2. Sanders has been with the Knicks since 2000, so she has three years worth of good performance evaluations on her side.

3. She's been in the workplace for over 20 years and her previous employer was IBM. This was an executive position with the Knicks, and knowing the NBA and its teams, there weren't too many women this high in an organization. She's no figurehead.

4. Isiah is socially personable, but not the brightest bulb in the chandelier. Remember him saying that Larry Bird would be just another player if he were black?

Another take: Isiah Thomas Handles Women As Well As He Handles ... Well, Everything Else

Actually, she’s not just an “employee;” she’s Anucha Browne Sanders, the former vice president of marketing whose bio is still up on the Knicks’ Web site. She’s hardly some opportunistic floozy; she’s a two-time Big Ten Player of the Year at Northwestern, she made Sports Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” list in 2003 and before coming to the Knicks, she did IBM marketing efforts for 11 years, including spearheading their Atlanta 1996 campaign. She also is married and has three children.

Sanders bio from

Anucha Browne Sanders

Senior Vice President, Marketing and Business Operations
New York Knickerbockers

Knicks Senior Vice President, Marketing and Business Operations Anucha Browne Sanders was elevated to her current position in the spring of 2002 after joining the organization as Vice President of Marketing on Nov. 20, 2000.

The Brooklyn, New York native is responsible for the day-to-day management of the business side of the Knicks front office and serves as the team’s chief marketing officer. She oversees all of the club’s business activities and revenue streams, including partnerships, ticketing, fan development, field marketing, event presentation, community relations, special events and new media. She also works closely with MSG’s other sports properties - the New York Rangers and New York Liberty - in finding new and innovative ways to integrate the three very distinct and highly successful brands and is the primary liaison between the team and the NBA. Her professional success has not gone unnoticed, as she was named to the Sports Business Journal’s “Forty Under Forty” list in 2003, honoring the top 40 professionals in the sports field under 40 years old. She was also honored for her work (along with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton), by Greater New York Links, Inc. an organization comprised of 11,000 African-American women nationwide, and has been a featured speaker at numerous sports marketing conferences and seminars ranging from the Harvard Business School to the Active 2002 Sport and Recreation Industry Conference in western Australia. Most recently, Anucha was honored with the 2004 Miracle Award by The Miracle Makers, a not-for-profit family and children’s services group in New York.

Prior to joining the Knicks, Anucha spent 11 years with IBM Corporation, serving in a number of roles, most recently as a Program Manager in IBM’s Worldwide Sports Office. In that capacity, she was responsible for a number of IBM’s marketing efforts during the Olympic Games (Atlanta 1996, Nagano 1998 and Sydney 2000), including corporate sponsorship efforts that allowed IBM to leverage their investment as a Worldwide Olympic sponsor.

The Northwestern University graduate was no stranger to success on the hardwood. She was a three-time All Big Ten selection and two-time Big Ten Player of the Year for the Wildcats, finishing her career as the all-time leading scorer in Big Ten women’s basketball history, as well as the school’s all-time leader in points (2,307) and rebounds (951). The two-time Wade Trophy nominee and 1985 Kodak All-American also led the nation in scoring with a school record 31.5 ppg in 1984-85. She was also selected to play on the U.S. National Team that toured Europe and Asia following her graduation. Her long list of athletic honors includes being selected Northwestern’s Athlete of the Decade for the ‘80’s and being inducted to the Wildcats Athletic Hall of Fame in 1993. She was also honored by the Empire State Games as one of it’s top athlete’s of the first 25 years the competition has been in existence, in the summer of 2002.

Among her numerous philanthropic activities, Anucha serves on the board of Children’s Village, a private, New York State, not-for-profit corporation that provides aid, comfort and hope to over 80,000 children. She also traveled to Southern Asia this past summer to assist the victims of the tsunami with their recovery and rebuilding efforts as part of a trip organized by Phillips Exeter Academy. Anucha holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Communications from Northwestern, and a Masters degree in Marketing Communications from Florida State University. She resides with her husband Roy and their three children in New Jersey.

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