The Knicks defend re-hiring Isiah Thomas to run their WNBA team after he was involved in a sexual harassment lawsuit that cost MSG $11.6 million

Isiah thomas knicksJulie Jacobson/APIsiah Thomas was the Knicks President of Basketball Operations from 2003-2008.

The New York Knicks have released a statement defending their decision to hire Isiah Thomas as president of their WNBA affiliate, the New York Liberty.

The hire made waves Tuesday, as Thomas, the former president of Basketball Operations and head coach of the Knicks, was at the center of a sexual harassment lawsuit that resulted in a jury awarding former executive Anucha Browne Sanders $US11.6 million in 2007.

A jury ruled that Thomas sexually harassed Browne Sanders and that the team’s owner, Madison Square Garden, improperly fired her for complaining about it, The New York Times reported at the time.

However, the jury couldn’t decide whether Thomas had to pay damages to Brown Sanders — leading to a mistrial and what The Times characterised as a “partial victory” for him.

On Tuesday, the Knicks defended the Thomas hire, saying, “We did not believe the allegations then, and we don’t believe them now … 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.”

The statement went on to say that the team feels lucky to have Thomas around to help run the franchise.

Here’s the full statement:

This is consistent with how the Knicks have addressed the lawsuit. At the time, the New York Times reported that the Knicks released a statement defending Thomas, saying, “We believe that the jury’s decision was incorrect and plan to vigorously appeal the verdict.”

We’ve reached out to Browne Sanders’ lawyers for comment.

Here is the Liberty’s full statement about Thomas’ hiring

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