Isiah Thomas: Not Gone Enough for One Knicks Fan

April, 18, 2008
4/18/08
10:16
PM ET

So, no doubt you have heard that Isiah Thomas has been re-assigned.

Again.

He was once president and head coach of the New York Knicks.

Then he was just head coach.

Now he's not even head coach anymore.

And yet somehow he's not unemployed, either.

Which makes him ... highly paid guy without a title, reporting to Donnie Walsh.

Makes you wonder what kind of amazing connection Thomas has with owner James Dolan.

I can't say I have a good grasp of what Isiah Thomas is like, or to what degree he is responsible for the misery that is the current New York Knicks. (Certainly Larry Brown couldn't make that environment work either. Maybe it's all Isiah's fault. Maybe not. We'll see.)

In any case, a lot of people have themselves convinced that Thomas is a disgrace, and it's impossible to argue those people don't have some strong evidence, including that sexual harrassment verdict, and a bundle of bad trades.  

TrueHoop reader Kyle, a long-suffering Knicks fan, is amazed that Thomas is still part of the franchise. This is an edited (for length) version of his long email:

Is there any team in the NBA today who would not fire Isiah Thomas? Hell, look at the great franchises such as the Spurs, Suns, and Pistons. Would they not do everything in their power to distance themselves from what might be one of the worst GM's/presidents in sports history? You'd think the tanking tv ratings, fear of losing season ticket subscribers, and alienating the fan base would cement his pink slip. It is an utter slap in the face this man still has a job.

Most news outlets and fans will be relieved he is neither a) president or b) coach. Instead he is languishing in an unnamed position. Yet according to Walsh, whose first major decision is clearly a wink to Dolan, has dropped brilliant quotes such as, "I can't tell you really where we failed," "I will be in touch with Isiah a lot," and "I feel like some of the bigger events that happened on the way with Isiah overshadowed some of the good things."  So in essence the man who tanked this franchise still has the ear of the general manager, and it seems ever more likely also has the ear of James Dolan. Or will it take another behind closed door meeting with both parties leaving the office laughing to further prove that Dolan loves Isiah?

I guess for me it's the principle of the matter and the terror that Isiah still has some pull in this franchise. Total autonomy for Walsh? Did anyone ever really buy that? 

The point is this man who has caused Knicks fans such heartache is still in there, and still talking to the top executives. Is this not unbelievable? I understand Dolan is equally, if not more to blame, but it's hard to take action against a owner, you know?

Henry, I know this sounds alarmist but I'm just a Knicks fan who's had enough. His punishment, if you even call it that, is woefully inferior to the crime. I feel robbed of justice as the shadow of Isiah still, STILL, looms over this franchise. The spirit of 94 and 99 seem so long ago at this point.

My best guess? I could be wrong, but I would guess that Thomas is working on a way to depart the Knicks himself. For a man with a lot of pride, hanging around at the behest of those hired to clean up your mess must be hard. Surely, at some point, the money stops being worth that indignity.

And it wouldn't surprise if that is part of the Knicks' thinking. You don't take a key executive's job away entirely and then expect that executive to happily hang around forever. They have to be expecting him to look for another job.

Also, I'm very curious to know: have they actually made him physically move out of his office? That kind of thing would surely be humiliating for all involved.

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