There was little reaction toward Isiah Thomas during
introductions in the first game in New York since a jury found that
the coach and Madison Square Garden sexually harassed former team
executive Anucha Browne Sanders.
Thomas said he expected a warm reception, though a harsh one
wouldn't have been surprising, less than 10 days after the verdict.
But with the arena still mostly empty minutes before the game,
there were only some light boos when his name was announced.
"Whatever reaction that happens to me or for me, I'm a big boy
and I've handled and conducted myself well, and I've been yelled
at, screamed at, booed at," Thomas said after the game. "I know
how to handle myself, so I'll be fine."
Instead, fans seemed more interested in the Israeli team. The Knicks had granted Maccabi control of all 19,763 tickets, resulting in a large contingent cheering and waving Israel's flag. As the
Knicks began to pull away in the third quarter, some of their
baskets were met with almost complete silence. The Knicks' Quentin
Richardson was loudly mocked when he lost the ball while going for
a breakaway dunk late in the period.
"We pretty much expected it," Thomas said. "The support that
the Maccabi team has, particularly here in New York, the way the
Elite team has played over the years, they're an excellent
basketball team and they have a great following. And we're glad
that we were able to put this game together."
Though the NBA's statement the day of the verdict indicated
there would be no punishment from the league because it was a civil
case, not a criminal one, commissioner David Stern said action
hadn't been ruled out during a press conference Wednesday in
London. But Thomas said he isn't concerned.
"I've worked with David Stern and the NBA over 20 years
personally and professionally," he said before the game. "He
knows the type of person that I am and the type of family that I
have. So I'm sure that if anybody in this league understands me, he
The Knicks were without center Eddy Curry, who won't play until
at least next week because of a labral tear in his right shoulder.
Allan Houston, who signed with the Knicks on Wednesday after a
two-year retirement, wasn't at the game and will begin his bid to
make the team at age 36 at practice Friday.
New York got off to a slow start and trailed by 10 points in the
first quarter. But the Knicks seized control by outscoring Maccabi
33-18 in the second to open a 53-43 halftime lead.
Former Chicago Bulls forward Marcus Fizer had 18 points and 12
rebounds for Maccabi. Vonteego Cummings, who played collegiately at
Pittsburgh, scored 21 points for the Israeli team, which arrived
Tuesday after a 12-hour commercial flight and returns Friday.
"It's great for the NBA and the Euroleague, but this was a long
trip for one game," Fizer said.