Did the Knicks' Owners Benefit from Losing the Harassment Case?

A number of observers of the harassment suit by Anucha Browne Sanders against Isiah Thomas and the Knicks have been wondering why the defendants didn't settle the case. After all, the Knicks have paid millions of dollars to players who can no longer contribute to the team (if they ever could), so what would have been the harm in paying a few million dollars to a former executive to keep the embarrassing details of the Knicks empire out of the news?

Here's a completely idle speculation/conspiracy theory for which I have not a shred of evidence, and thus I offer it only as a provocative hypothesis: Maybe the Knicks wanted to lose this case. How's that? Well, there is currently a $10.6 billion offer pending minority shareholder approval under which the Dolan family would take Cablevision (parent of Madison Square Garden and the Knicks) private. In exposing the Knicks as a poorly run organization, Dolan and Thomas would have encouraged minority shareholders to think along the following lines:

1) Current management is not very good;
2) But it's entrenched and so if I keep my stock it could lose value;
3) So I should take the deal and put my money in something else.

Measured against the value of the Cablevision deal, the $11.6 million dollar verdict in the Browne Sanders case is chump change.

To repeat, I don't actually have any reason to think that Thomas or James Dolan tried to lose the case. On the contrary, they put on a vigorous defense. But losing wasn't necessarily such a bad outcome for the Dolan family.

Posted by Mike Dorf, Knicks fan despite everything