Isiah’s Reprieve Not Just About W’s & L’s

By Jerald L. Hoover
Updated: December 4, 2007

NEW YORK — Knicks fans, critiques, skeptics and pessimists who are calling for head coach and President Isiah Thomas’ head on a platter may as well get used to seeing it on the sidelines for a little while longer. There are a few mitigating factors as to why this will happen.

For one, there’s the economic aspect. Isiah is owed roughly 24 million big ones over a period of three or four years, thanks to an extension of his contract by team owner James Dolan last season.

To fire Isiah now could be a devastating blow financially. Even if a settlement were reached by Dolan and Isiah you could rest assured it wouldn’t be for anything less than $20 million. The Larry Brown mess can serve as a model.

If money is owed on a contract, a great chuck of it will be paid. Then there would be the $5 million plus salary that would have to be paid to Isiah’s replacement to try and fix the unyielding mess.

Yes, the Knicks as an organization has thrown away money like we and our neighbors throw out yesterday’s garbage. But, at some point fiscal responsibility if not fiscal reasoning has to come into play, even for the Knicks.

Another factor, albeit a major one is the Anucha Brown-Sanders appeal. To fire Isiah before the appeal is heard would make the appeal of non affect. How would an appellate judge take the Knicks seriously if the Knick defense came in from different sides of the spectrum, with Dolan and Isiah at opposite sides?

Another thing also that shouldn’t be taken lightly is Isiah brought all of the players on the roster to New York so there is a sense of loyalty. Of course if a new coach and president is hired the players will lace up and grind; but how into it would they be with the exception of looking good enough to cash their paychecks. And it isn’t likely that a new administration would be able to just come in and make trades just like that.

This has turned into a season of trying times. Training camp was filled with a great deal of promise with the addition of double-double man, Zach Randolph. He’s not a stellar defender but he hasn’t disappointed with his offensive repertoire and his he-man-like rebounding.

But, he has missed time in the early season to care for and then to unfortunately bury his ailing grandmother who passed away during the Knicks’ recent road trip out West that turned into a drama filled ignominy that still has a dark shadow cast over the team.

Sense that trip ‘boos’ have cascaded from the rafters in a hearty roar. Chants of “Fiyah Isiah” have be deafening whenever the Knicks play lousy. Injuries have played a bit part in stagnating the season as forwards Jared Jeffries, Quentin Richardson and Renaldo Balkman have missed time for various reasons.

The main blow came however during the Knicks verses the Phoenix Suns. Marbury’s beloved father, Don Sr. complained about having chest pains during the game.

He was taken St. Vincent’s Hospital where he apparently died of a heart attack in Manhattan. You almost have to wonder, although Don Jr. has been quoted as saying that his father ‘was just sick. He was just sick,’ if the boos in the crowd for his much-loved son somehow aided in his ailment.

Whether you’re a fan of Marbury or not as a player, one has to have a heart of compassion for him as a human being. The last several weeks have been rough. The Marbury and Isiah feud not withstanding fractured an already fragile lockerroom, Marbury lost an aunt (Helen, the grandmother of Minnesota Timberwolf, Sebastian Telfair) around about the same time he lost a dear friend, Robert (Mr. Lou) Williams a mentor from his old neighborhood of Coney Island.

Marbury may be a complex individual to most observers but there’s not denying this family loyalty and his sensitive side as he is known to shed tears at the drop of a hat.

This ordeal with his father will no doubt be a difficult one for his friends, loved ones and his family headed by his mother Mabel. But if this doesn’t break Stephon, it will most certainly make him that much stronger. And that would probably be just the way his father would want it.