Anucha Browne Sanders Lawsuit Against Isiah Thomas for "Flirt Request"

Written by:
Don Shapiro
Published on:

Anucha Browne Sanders, a former senior vice president of marketing and business operations, is suing coach Isiah Thomas on the grounds that she was asked to "flirt with officials before a game against the Nets in 2004, the Daily News reported."

Browne Sanders alleges dance team choreographer Petra Pope told her Thomas made the unusual request.

"What she told me was that Isiah asked her to go into the referees' locker room and make them happy," Browne Sanders testified.

"I think it's interesting how Browne Sanders attorneys' portray Isiah Thomas telling the cheerleader to go to the refs locker room and "make them happy", comments one individual on BlogSport.  "The cheerleader interpreted the statement as "go in there and flirt with them." I think you could just as easily presume that he meant, go in there and have sex with them. I wonder if they will argue it that way, or stick with the cheerleader's interpretation."

Sanders said Marbury directed an obscenity at her after she complained about the player's cousin -- who was also employed by the team -- had made graphic sexual comments to her staff. 

Marbury, in a January deposition, acknowledged calling Browne Sanders a "black bitch", according to the New York Post. 

Sanders also claimed a member of her staff admitted to consensual drunken sex with Marbury after a night at a "gentlemen's club" and said "she did not believe she could say no because of who Marbury is." 

Sanders said her decision to inform officials about the encounter led to her being fired, according to the New York Post. 

A collegiate star at Northwestern University, Anucha Browne Sanders, filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against New York Knicks general manager Isiah Thomas and Madison Square Garden (the corporation which owns the Knicks and several other New York sports franchises).

In the lawsuit, it is claimed that Thomas sexually harassed Browne Sanders starting with his hiring by the Knicks in December 2003, up until her termination; further, the lawsuit claims that her firing was in retaliation for her complaints about the alleged harassment. The lawsuit alleges that after Browne Sanders' counsel told MSG of her complaint, MSG forced her out of work while it investigated the situation.

At the conclusion of the investigation, MSG fired Browne Sanders, allegedly because of "an inability to fulfill professional responsibilities." MSG has not specified what professional responsibilities Browne Sanders failed to fulfill, nor have they said why her purported performance problems only came to light after she complained of sexual harassment.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, and reinstatement to her former position with the Knicks.

In August 2006, the lawsuit was expanded to include Knicks and Cablevision owner James Dolan as a defendant.

Sanders has been featured on 
Sports Business Journal 's "40 under 40" list, given to up-and-coming young sports executives.


Don Shapiro,

Originally published July 1, 1007 10:12 am ET

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