Reports: Thomas' job safe with Knicks, owner says
Despite back-to-back losses against the woeful Sixers, New York Knicks head coach Isiah Thomas was reportedly told by owner James Dolan that his job is not in jeopardy.After Saturday night's 105-77 loss at Madison Square Garden where fans were chanting "Fire Isiah", Dolan continued to support his embattled coach, a high-ranking team official told multiple New York media outlets. Dolan had not been seen in his courtside seats the past three games but he was in attendance Saturday night and spoke to Thomas after the game, according to the reports. Madison Square Garden president Steve Mills also attended the meeting with Thomas.
"Jim is behind Isiah the same way he was behind Glen Sather in the 2003-04 season, when circumstances were similar," the official told The New York Times, referring to the Rangers' president.
Sather, who has been the Rangers president and general manager since 2000, endured several difficult seasons in New York including four straight years of sub-.500 play. He also went behind the bench for the Rangers during the 2003-04 campaign, drawing even closer comparisons to Thomas' current situation.
Thomas refused to directly address his conversations with Dolan after practice Sunday, but acknowledged having the support of his boss."I think we understand where we are and what we're trying to accomplish. And again, for us it's really about just trying to keep everything in perspective in terms of where we are in the league, where we're trying to go in the league," Thomas said.
Before the consecutive losses to the Sixers, the Knicks had won four of their last six games. One of the two defeats during that stretch included a 45-point thrashing from the now 17-2 Boston Celtics.Through Saturday, the Knicks are 6-13 and languishing in last place in the Atlantic Division. Only the 4-15 Miami Heat have a lower winning percentage (.211) than New York (.316) in the Eastern Conference. "When you look at the East in general, it's a conference right now where there are a lot of teams that are similar to us," Thomas said. "So we're not beyond regrouping, just like those other teams aren't beyond regrouping. That just suggests you got a lot of work to do, and we're capable of doing the work and we'll see where we are at the end of the year."
Dolan may be satisfied, but many fans certainly aren't. When The Knicks started the "Fire Isiah" chants, the MSG staff responded by playing music to drown out the fans' voices."Well, if they played the music, I still heard the chants," Thomas said with a laugh. "It's safe to say I heard the chants and didn't hear the music. Now if they asked me what music they were playing, I couldn't tell you the song, but I could sure as hell tell you what they were chanting.''
Thomas said he wasn't angry with his players, and isn't even yelling at them. Because they hear so much negativity, he reasoned, it's up to him to tell them positive things to rebuild their confidence."I've yelled at them before and I've been hard on them before, this isn't the time to be hard on them," Thomas said. "They were suggesting maybe two, three weeks ago that I was too hard on my players for benching Marbury. So this isn't the time to kick the dog, so to speak. This is the time to give them a lot of love and support and that's what I do as a coach."
Thomas declined to say if those suggestions came from the players or the media.The Associated Press contributed to this report.