Plenty of WNBA news -- all bad

  • The WNBA's New York Liberty recently hired Isiah Thomas to run the team despite the fact that Thomas was at the center of a sexual harassment lawsuit in 2007 when he worked for the New York Knicks in which a jury awarded the plaintiff, Anucha Browne Sanders, $11.5 million.

    The WNBA's New York Liberty recently hired Isiah Thomas to run the team despite the fact that Thomas was at the center of a sexual harassment lawsuit in 2007 when he worked for the New York Knicks in which a jury awarded the plaintiff, Anucha Browne Sanders, $11.5 million. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 5/24/2015 8:14 PM

It's been only a week since WNBA teams held their media days as an unofficial opening to the 2015 season -- and already the league has received more mainstream press than it does during the thick of most seasons.

Unfortunately, this has been the kind of press the league could live without, starting with the announcement by the New York Liberty that Isiah Thomas would be its new president and part owner.

 

Remember, this is the same Isiah Thomas of Detroit Pistons fame who was at the center of a sexual harassment lawsuit in 2007 when he worked for the New York Knicks. Madison Square Garden paid $11.5 million to Anucha Browne Sanders, a fellow Knicks executive who accused Thomas of a hostile work environment and said she got fired when she complained about it.

So ... of course! Let's put Thomas in charge of New York's WNBA team.

Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan, the head of both franchises, unequivocally stands by Thomas, who maintains his innocence.

But again, to review, a jury ruled in favor of Browne Sanders. And, newsflash, the WNBA is a league for women.

The optics of this are terrible, and Dolan seems to care less.

The WNBA Board of Governors must approve this move, and WNBA president Laurel Richie says that will happen before the league's first games tip off in June.

by signing up you agree to our terms of service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Some are worried that if Dolan doesn't get his way, he will pull his support of the Liberty, and the WNBA won't have a team in the nation's biggest market.

Oy vey! What a mess.

Speaking of messes, there's a mess right in our own backyard with Chicago Sky all-star center Sylvia Fowles demanding a trade to the Minnesota Lynx.

It's unclear what is really driving this unfortunate situation but, one thing is for certain, Fowles, after seven years here, is done in Chicago. And because a trade with Minnesota would be almost impossible to finesse, Fowles will likely opt to sit out the entire season.

That's a shame for the Sky, which is a heavy favorite to win the WNBA championship with Fowles, and for the WNBA.

No one associated with the league wants to see superstars sitting and not playing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

But alas, Fowles isn't alone.

Joining Fowles on the sidelines will be Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi, the best female player in the world. She has opted to take a lump sum of money from her off-season team in Russia to rest rather than play this summer in the WNBA.

Former Naperville Central star and Los Angeles forward Candace Parker might also skip the upcoming season for health and fatigue reasons. And injured Seattle star Lauren Jackson, a former WNBA MVP, is also out for 2015.

The stars of the WNBA are dropping like flies. Not good.

Everyone understands Taurasi's choice and can't blame her for wanting a break after years and years of playing year-round basketball.

But, for the WNBA, this is hard to swallow. When the best player in your league chooses to get paid by a team from another league to sit rather than play in your league, that's a problem. More bad optics.

Taurasi led the Phoenix Mercury to a championship last season, beating the Sky in the WNBA Finals. The Mercury, by the way, is suddenly in disarray, also not good for the WNBA.

The most exciting team in the league will be without not only Taurasi, but also its other most noteworthy player, Brittney Griner. The 6-foot-8 dunking center was suspended for the first seven games of the season because of her arrest for assault and disorderly conduct in relation to a domestic incident involving fellow WNBA player Glory Johnson, a forward for the Tulsa Shock.

Johnson, who also got a seven-game suspension, recently became Griner's wife.

What's next? Injured players being forced to play? Allegations of mental and psychological abuse?

Oh wait, that's the rub at the University of Illinois right now with the women's basketball team there. Talk about a mess. That's a subject for another column and another day.

All I know is that it's been a rough month or so all the way around for women's basketball, and the WNBA in particular is like a soap opera right now.

Hopefully, the action on the court this summer will be just as compelling. The WNBA could use some good optics.

• Follow Patricia on Twitter: @babcockmcgraw

0 Comments
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.