Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Friday, May 15, 2015

WNBA Players Are Giving Thomas Move Involving the NY Liberty a Pass -- For Now

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

Since MSG honcho James Dolan has made Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas presumptive president and part-owner of the New York Liberty despite Thomas being the central figure in a successful sexual harrassment suit by former NBA New York Knicks executive Anucha Browne, now vice president of Women's Basketball in the NCAA, there has been outrage.

The furor has come from the media, predominantly those who cover the NBA, especially those who cover the NBA in New York, and from women's basketball fans.

They have pointed to the tide of protest, especially from players, when former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald T. Sterling was caught on tape making racial remarks and was relatively quickly removed from his position by NBA commissioner Adam Silver and the NBA board of governors.

In that light, questions have been arising when is the league going to do something, though president Laurel Richie after the announcement said in a statement the league is taking the move seriously and pointed out the WNBA board of governors still must approve the move and the home office of the league in anonymity in the last several days made the Associated Press aware that New York has filed the paper work involving Thomas' application.

Meanwhile, media and fandom have questioned why in one case, namely Sterling, public comment came from all over the NBA, that unlikewise other than a statement from the management of the Seatle Storm, and an emphatic reaction deploring the move from Hall of Famer and Connecticut Suin coach Anne Donovan, who once coached the Liberty, there has been relatively silence.

Well, it looks like a sector -- the players union -- now has an official reaction and those looking for a tidal wave have instead gotten a ripple, based on a statement posted sometime Thursday on the WNPBA website.

Basically, it appears that the players are not opposed to move, per se, questioning it, noting problems of such in the workplace wouldn't be tolerated, but then gears are switch in which it is noted that things can change over time and that the union will closely monitor activity on the Liberty with several meetings with the players as the season gets under way.

Here is the specific section which the Guru cites. The entire statement is at the end of this commentary.

The verdict finding there to be a hostile work environment at MSG was issued eight years ago, however. We recognize that people can learn, grow and evolve in that time frame, and that MSG, under Mr. Dolan, may now afford a hospitable, appropriate and non-discriminatory environment for its female employees.

The Guru first saw a reference to the statement via a tweet from his ace WNBA scribe Rob Knox, who, by the way, was announced Thursday as part of the next Hall of Fame class at his alma mater Lincoln University.

It was late Thursday when the Guru was catching up with his timeline so there was no chance to be making calls for explanation or better interpretation.

Curiously, there was nothing showing anywhere at media sites or at social media locales reacting or reporting anything involving the statement, though maybe something is going up since the Guru began writing this and is posting immediate as daylight comes up on a Friday morning -- what else is new ion the Guru's world.

What the Guru finds stunning is the union posting this sort of stand BEFORE the league ownership took their own action and now have a green light to give approval without much dissent.

Why hold the owners feet to the fire when the players are not so hot and bothered -- Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer in an interview with the New York Post last week said all his players were on board with the action.

Had the owners basically already gone ahead first -- though the Guru believes the votes do exist to reject -- and given the ok, then the statement would be understandable because there isn't much more the players could do to object at that point -- the reality is it's a much smaller universe and there are not many in the league with the stature of Donovan that would be equivalent of the the protests that occurred over Sterling.

Or, maybe there are legal difficulties stopping the move and attempts are now being made behind the scenes to put on the best face in light of that possbility.

"I know that when (founding president) Val (Ackerman, now Big East commissioner) and (former NBA commissioner) David (Stern) were running the show, and issues came up, they quickly had a plan in place and began getting feedback from teams," said a former team operative in the league, requesting anonymity.

Possibly that has been going on in the Silver/Richie regimes though the Guru has not heard of discussions from some of his contacts who are top management types at team level.

So let's see what Friday begins. In the interim, here is the statement to save you searching around. Stay tune.

“The WNBPA and its members are aware of the 2007 verdict reached by a federal jury, after trial, that involved actions by Mr. Thomas and Mr. Dolan, and which found there to be a hostile work environment for women at Madison Square Garden (MSG).

WNBA players are aware that they have an impact both on and off the court. The WNBA is the premier women’s sports league in the world — its players represent the pinnacle of athletic prowess, are deeply vested in their local communities, and serve as role models for millions of boys and girls across the country. As such, we feel it is important to convey the message that WNBA players will not tolerate a hostile work environment, and that no one should have to endure unwanted sexual advances and harassment in the workplace.

The verdict finding there to be a hostile work environment at MSG was issued eight years ago, however. We recognize that people can learn, grow and evolve in that time frame, and that MSG, under Mr. Dolan, may now afford a hospitable, appropriate and non-discriminatory environment for its female employees.

As the union for all WNBPA players, we want to ensure that this remains the case and that Liberty players will not be subjected to the type of environment found to exist at MSG in the past.

Towards that end, we will have recurring meetings with the Liberty players throughout the season to provide a forum for any issues, complaints or concerns regarding the working environment at MSG. We will be hosting the first meeting prior to the start of the season.”

–Evie Goldstein, Director of Operations, WNBPA




- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad

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