Saturday, October 27, 2007
Updated: November 2, 9:11 AM ET
Stringer says she's sorry for ripping Thomas' comments
ESPN.com news services
This story has been corrected. Read below
C. Vivian Stringer apologized to Isiah Thomas on Saturday after saying during an interview with ESPN earlier in the week that the New York Knicks coach's comments during a
trial deposition were "disgusting."
"The whole situation is most regrettable," the Rutgers women's basketball coach said in a statement. "It was not my position to insult Mr. Thomas in any way. I responded to a question of which I had partial information and was not aware of the full text of Mr. Thomas' statement. I am not in a place to make judgment on Isiah Thomas, [former team employee] Anucha Browne [Sanders] or the New York Knicks organization. I spoke to Isiah this morning and have apologized. I am hoping we can now get back to basketball."
A portion of Thomas' deposition was shown in court during the recent trial, in which a jury ruled that Thomas and Madison Square Garden sexually harassed Sanders.
The tape showed Thomas saying he made a distinction between a black man calling a black woman "bitch" and a white man doing the same thing. He was criticized for that by Al Sharpton, who threatened to lead protests at Knicks games unless Thomas explained his remarks.
Stringer's statement came a day after an ESPN interview that drew a strong response from Thomas. Talking to ESPN reporter Doris Burke about Thomas' comments in the videotaped deposition, Stringer said: "You want to know what I really felt? It was disgusting. What does he think? This was a woman first. He has no right to put her down, and then think it's OK for me to put her down but it's not all right for a white man to put her down. What are you talking about? She is a human being and as a female, and in particular as a black female, I took tremendous offense to that."
Stringer added she didn't like Thomas defending or tolerating the use of such derogatory language about women.
After Friday night's Knicks' preseason loss to New Jersey, Thomas urged Stringer to "get the facts" about what he said during the sexual-harassment trial.
"I'm not sure what she said, but if she would like to hear the facts and not the edited portion of what I supposedly said, I'm not hard to find,'' he told reporters. "It's easy to get what I said. So don't speak from ignorance, get the facts about what I said and not the portion that was taken out of context.''
But speaking to Newsday on Saturday, Thomas made it clear that he and Stringer had spoken and had cleared the air since her Friday afternoon comments.
"I congratulated her on keeping her team together last year through a very difficult time and playing in the championship game," he told the paper. "Now that she has all the facts, she read my statement and heard the things I had to say in the full context of what I said, she was very supportive and understood exactly where I was coming from. It was a good conversation."
When asked by the newspaper if Stringer apologized, Thomas said: "Yes, she did."
Stringer was previously forced into the issue of men using derogatory language toward women when radio host Don Imus made a racist and sexist remark about her team after it lost to Tennessee in last season's national championship game.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
After saying in an ESPN interview earlier in the week that his comments during a trial deposition were "disgusting," Rutgers women's basketball coach C. Vivian Stringer apologized to Isiah Thomas on Saturday. The time frame of Stringer's criticism of the Knicks coach was incorrect in earlier versions of this story.
I am not in a place to make judgment on Isiah Thomas, [former team employee] Anucha Browne [Sanders] or the New York Knicks organization. I spoke to Isiah this morning and have apologized. I am hoping we can now get back to basketball.
-- C. Vivian Stringer