Sunday, October 7, 2007

Isiah and MSG Found Liable for Sexual Harrassment

"Yes, and it counts!". That was my initial reaction to hearing the news that Isiah, Dolan and the rest of the Keystone Kops that inhabit the "World's Most Repugnant Arena". And yes, I danced a little jig in the hotel room as the news went across the scroll on ESPN.

There have been probably millions of words written about the trial and the result. Some of my favorite articles have been written by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, columnists Shaun Powell, Johnette Howard and Jim Baumbach of Newsday, Mike Vacarro of the New York Post, ESPN's Bill Simmons and countless others.

But of course I have to get my 2 cents in. I guess I see a few different angles outside the ordinary:
* Tawny Thomas' -- Isiah and Clarence: The irony is almost inconceivable. Could it have been timed any better than this? In the same week that Isiah, Dolan and just about everybody at MSG tries to sully the reputation of an up-and-coming black female in a sexual harassment suit, that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas releases his book 'My Grandfather’s Son' in which he recounts his clashes with, Anita Hill, the clerk that accused Clarence of sexual harrassment. Both in during the confirmation hearings, and again in the book, Clarence tries to disparage and defame the reputation of the woman making the charges against him. The same tactic that Isiah and the MSG execs used. The only difference in the two stories is that Isiah was found liable. Clarence Thomas is only a liability for the nation.

* Isiah and Imus: Where's the Outrage Now? So now what. In the aftermath, it appears that Isiah, Dolan or the Knicks will walk away nary a scratch (excepting the $11.6M that MSG and Dolan must cough up -- but who's kidding who, that doesn't affect the Knicks one bit). No suspensions, no lost draft picks, nothing that impacts the franchise. Personally I think that David Stern, the Commissioner of the NBA, missed an opportunity. He has hit players far worse for far less. But what's worse in my opinion is that the people who have the real power, the advertisers, have not weighed in at all. When Don Imus called the members of the Rutgers women's basketball team "a bunch of nappy headed ho's", Imus was widely derided, abandoned and in short order lost his job. Why did that happen, because the advertisers who supported his show for decades withdrew their support immediately. I am in no way advocating or defending Imus' conduct (although for full disclosure I was a long time listener and found Imus funny), what he did was nothing compared to what Isiah did. Imus called them names. Isiah SEXUALLY HARASSED Ms. Browne-Sanders and MSG enabled the environment and further fired Ms. Browne-Sanders in retribution. Where is the outrage from the advertisers now? Jimmy Dolan is an idiot, but even he, or perhaps his father Charles who owns Cablevision, might do something if all of their advertisers withdrew their support. So again I say, where's the outrage now?

On a related note, another show I listen to diligently is ESPN's Pardon the Interruption (PTI), hosted by renowned Washington Post columnists Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon. I love these guys, but in their October 2 episode they talked about the Isiah trial result. Both found Isiah's actions repugnant, but felt that he should still be allowed to coach the Knicks (which perhaps they felt was punishment enough). But moments after that segment, during the "Big Finish", Mr. Kornheiser mentioned that Don Imus was reportedly being given a new radio show and asked Mr. Wilbon whether he thought that was OK. Mr. Wilbon answered "no, not really". That was stunning to me. Wilbon had not even initially thought that Imus should have lost his job when the Rutgers incident occurred. But now he thought it was OK for Isiah to keep coaching while Imus shouldn't be given another chance after being out of work for 6 months? I was stunned and disappointed. I mean not only did Isiah SEXUALLY HARASS the person in this case, but he also used the term "black bitch" while referring Ms. Browne-Sanders and further stated in video testimony that it was OK for black males to use this phrase, but not for white males. How is Imus' actions worse than Isiah's, on any level? I don't know why Mr. Wilbon took this position. I don't think it was a "black solidarity thing". Perhaps it is simply a case of being too close to his sources, having known Isiah for many years as he covered the NBA. But certainly, Mr. Wilbon has fallen a few pegs in my book.

Finally, just yesterday I realized that the apocalypse is nearly upon us. Yes, it appears that Rev. Al Sharpton is the voice of reason. Clearly the end of times is upon us. But Rev. Sharpton is the only person calling on Isiah to recant his statements about the appropriateness of calling black females "Bitches". And suprisingly, has called for picketing MSG unless Isiah does so. Amazing.

1 comment:

Glenn Gruber said...

I have to add that I found an article by ESPN's Jemele Hill making the same sort of comparison between Isiah and Imus. I found this article after I wrote my blog piece. But at least I'm not the only one making the comparison. Read the article at