One of the most bizarre stories in sports the past few days has been the news that the Knicks are hiring Isiah Thomas as a consultant for the organization. This is mind-boggling on several levels. First, Thomas serves as the coach at Florida International University which seems like an inherent conflict of interest because the NBA forbids its employees to have contact with college basketball players. Second, Isiah’s time in New York was miserable and the losing was like he was on “death row.” Lastly, Isiah running the Knicks was like a “three-ring circus” and he cost the organization $11.6 million in a sexual harassment suit.
It’s hard to determine what’s worse: that the Knicks would actually want Isiah back despite him running the franchise into the ground, or that the NBA would allow such an apparent conflict of interest. While there’s no real answer for the former (except that Isiah must have been James Dolan’s favorite player), we do have an answer for the second item. None of the other owners are opposed to Isiah consulting for the Knicks. In fact, they’re all supportive of the move. Their mentality is that whatever team with which Thomas is associated will never be a contender. It’s simple logic, but just compare two scenarios: what would the NBA do if John Calipari said he was going to consult for the Chicago Bulls? And what are they doing with Isiah? The obvious answer is no harm no foul. That’s why Isiah’s case is different.