The WNBA's New York Liberty named NBA legend Isiah Thomas their new team president and part-owner on May 5.
Isiah Thomas is the new team president and part-owner of the WNBA's New York Liberty.
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The Liberty issued a press release on Thomas' hiring on their official website on May 5:
"The New York Liberty and Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas today announced that Mr. Thomas has been named team president, with responsibility for basketball and business operations.
"Mr. Thomas has also taken an ownership interest in the team, and is committed to using his considerable expertise to help further develop the liberty, both on and off the court."
Madison Square Garden Company executive chairman James Dolan told the Liberty's official website on Tuesday that Thomas has been helping out in team matters since last fall. His excellent performance has earned him his new title:
"In the fall, Isiah and I began discussions about a possible role for him with the Liberty. Since that time, Isiah has been advising the team, and we are very pleased with the results.
"He has overseen the strengthening of our coaching staff, with the return of three-time WNBA champion head coach Bill Laimbeer and the hiring of Herb Williams as assistant coach, as well as our recent free agent signings, draft strategy, trade for Epiphanny Prince and the return of Liberty legend, Teresa Weatherspoon.
"Now, we've agreed that it is time for him to take a lead role with the team as president, and through his ownership interest. He's an excellent judge of talent, and I'm confident that he will put all of his energy and experience into making the Liberty as a perennially competitive and successful team."
For his part, Thomas told the Liberty's official website he is honored to be given the opportunity:
"I am honored to have the opportunity to lead the New York Liberty and help the franchise reclaim its position as one of the elite teams in the WNBA.
"Following a conversation with Jim about his thoughts on the franchise, I expressed my interest and enthusiasm for taking responsibility for both the basketball and business operations, as well as for taking an ownership interest in the team.
"To me, basketball is basketball. These women are outstanding athletes who want to compete for a championship in New York. I look forward to this challenge -- not just to win a title, but also to help broaden the team's fanbase."
Thomas revealed to The New York Times' Harvey Araton via a telephone interview on May 5 Dolan reached out to him several months ago and asked if he could help the Liberty:
"Jim reached out to me about three or four months ago. He said he thought the team could use some help and if I wanted to get involved. I said I did. We just kept talking and it led to this."
Thomas told Araton he's always been a fan of the WNBA. Prior to the Liberty hiring him, he was a part-time analyst on NBA TV.
"Now I got basketball again 365 and 24/7, the way I like it," he told The New York Times.
Haraton stresses Thomas' hiring happens seven-and-a-half years after a New York Knicks female executive (now named Anucha Browne) filed a lawsuit against him for wrongful termination after she complained he sexually harrassed her.
Browne, who now serves as a vice president for the NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis, eventually received $11.6 million in damages. Thomas was the president and head coach of the Knicks back then, per The New York Times.
When Haraton reached her by text message to comment on Thomas' hiring as new Liberty president, she said, "I heard about this. No response is the best response for me."
On the other hand, Madison Square Garden executive vice president for communicatinos and administration told The New York Times on Tuesday the company still stands by Thomas' innocence:
"We did not believe in the allegations then, and we don't believe them now. We feel strongly that the jury improperly and unfairly held Isiah Thomas responsible for sordid allegations that were completely unrelated to him, and for which M.S.G bore responsibility.
"In fact, when given the opportunity, the jury did not find Isiah liable for punitive damages, confirming he did not act maliciously or in bad faith. We believe Isiah belongs in basketball, and are grateful that he has committed his considerable talent to help the Liberty succeed."
Thomas told ESPN NBA Insider Chris Broussard on Tuesday he will have no role with his former team, the Knicks.
He became the Toronto Raptors' general manager and Indiana Pacers' head coach prior to joining the Knicks in 2003. After Thomas amassed a 56-108 win-loss record in two seasons as Knicks head coach, he became the head coach of the Florida International University (FIU) Panthers, going 26-65 in three seasons, per Broussard.
Back then, Dolan tried to lure Thomas back to New York as a consultant. However, Broussard says the plan was foiled "because it violated NBA rules."
The 54-year-old Thomas was a 13-year NBA veteran and two-time NBA champion who was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2000.
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