Lisa Leslie does not think Isiah Thomas should be in charge of a women's basketball team in light of past sexual harassment charges, the former WNBA star told SI Now on Wednesday.
Last month, New York Liberty owner James Dolan hired Thomas as the team's president, with the Hall of Fame point guard also purchasing an ownership stake in the franchise. Dolan also owns the New York Knicks, for whom Thomas worked in 2007 when he was found to have sexually harassed team employee Anucha Browne Sanders and fired her when she complained about her advances. A jury awarded Sanders $11.6 million in punitive damages.
Leslie said when she heard about Thomas' hire, she initially forgot his history with sexual harassment.
"My initial thought was, 'great,'" Leslie said. "Because if the New York organization were a part of firing him, they must have done their due diligence hiring him. Then you get all the backlash, you get a chance to do a little more homework, and this is almost like, why would you put him in charge of a women's team when he's had issue with sexual harassment?"
Earlier this week, the WNBA formed a six-member committee to vet the Liberty's hiring of Thomas.
Leslie, who played 12 seasons in the WNBA with the Los Angeles Sparks and was voted into the National Basketball Hall of Fame this year, said she doesn't know what will happen next with Thomas and the Liberty.
"I'm not sure how you backtrack from this other than the fans can really make a change. Because it's all about money at the end of the day, it's all about support, it's all about sponsors — they can pull out if they so choose. But the people will be able to make a change. If they're not happy about it, and they won't support the Liberty if Isiah Thomas is there, then change will happen."
- Alex Putterman