NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Isiah Thomas is returning to MSG under the watchful eye of James Dolan.
The Knicks owner rehired Thomas on Tuesday — this time to run the WNBA’s New York Liberty.
“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,” Dolan said in a statement. “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 a perennially competitive and successful team.”
The Liberty said that Thomas will serve as team president with responsibility for basketball and business operations. He has also taken an ownership interest in the team.
The 54-year-old Hall of Famer has a long history with Dolan, who oversees the Knicks, Liberty and Rangers as chairman of the Madison Square Garden Company.
Dolan’s Knicks didn’t win a single playoff game during Thomas’ stint as team president from December 2003 to April 2008 despite regularly owning the NBA’s highest payroll. Thomas also went 56-108 in two seasons as their coach before being fired.
He remained with the Knicks in an unspecified role, even after a lawsuit brought by former team employee Anucha Browne Sanders that cost MSG $11.6 million. Sanders alleged she was sexually harassed by Thomas, who maintained his innocence and was never found personally liable.
The Liberty went 15-19 in 2014 and didn’t qualify for the playoffs for the second straight year under head coach Bill Laimbeer, who was Thomas’ former teammate in Detroit.
They’ll open the season June 5 against the Atlanta Dream at MSG.
“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,” Thomas said in a statement. “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.”
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