BY LESLIE MONTEIRO
(Photo credit: Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images)
It is interesting Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau will hire Rick Brunson to be his assistant coach. It hasn’t been official yet with the NBA Finals going on right now, but it reportedly will happen.
It’s not about the Knicks hiring the elder Brunson as a way to get the younger Jalen Brunson to sign with them that strikes me as interesting. They hired him despite resigning as Thibodeau’s assistant coach with the Minnesota Timberwolves after being the subject of complaints of improper conduct towards women. They hired him despite sexually abusing a massage therapist when he was Thibodeau’s assistant coach with the Chicago Bulls.
Yes, Brunson was acquitted of charges he sexually abused a massage therapist in Chicago. Yes, nothing came out of it about what he did in Minnesota.
No matter. The damage was done. He became damaged goods to the point he coached high school basketball out at Camden to rehab his image. Just because he was acquitted in Chicago and nothing came out of it in Minnesota did not mean he was innocent. It’s easy to pay for innocence. Just ask O.J. Simpson.
Only the Knicks and Thibodeau wanted Brunson. One has to wonder why the Knicks approved this hiring after a couple of decades ago when Knicks executive Isiah Thomas was involved in a sexual harassment suit by Anucha Browne Sanders that had the Garden settle an $11.5 million lawsuit.
The hiring of Brunson shouldn’t be surprising. After all, Dolan couldn’t have cared less about women being sexually harassed. Remember this same owner hired Thomas to run the WNBA’s New York Liberty despite Thomas’ incident. Dolan never thought Thomas was guilty.
This is a bad look for the Knicks organization. It certainly is a bad look for Thibodeau.
The Knicks must understand a good portion of their fanbase is women, too. They need to respect women as part of the fanbase. They matter whether Dolan likes it or not.
Dolan looking the other way just shows he does not get it and he never will. It’s why he and the Knicks are hard to root for.
As for Thibodeau, he should be ashamed of himself. One would think he would stay away from Brunson after several incidents concerning him. Yet, he looks the other way because his assistant coach is loyal to him. There seems to be a trust factor among those two.
Thibodeau is coaching for his job this coming season after a disappointing 37-45 campaign this past season. He lost his assistant coach Kenny Payne, who is now the head coach of NCAA’s Louisville Cardinals, so he begged Knicks president of basketball operations Leon Rose to hire Brunson to work with him since he is a loyal lieutenant to him.
Is Thibodeau that desperate to coach for his job that he needed to hire a guy involved with harassing women? It shows he is tone-deaf towards women, too
It’s amusing to think hiring the elder Brunson would convince the younger Brunson to leave the Dallas Mavericks for a mess in the New York Knicks. Why would he leave Luka Docnic for RJ Barrett? Does that make sense to him? Sure he could follow the money, and the Knicks can pay him. Guess what? The Dallas Mavericks can, too. While we are at it, when did he become Chris Paul all of a sudden that he would be the answer to the Knicks’ eternal point guard woes?
The younger Brunson may be happy in Dallas. There’s no media scrutiny there like it would be here if he signed with the Knicks. There is no pressure to perform at a high level every night in a market that focuses more on the Dallas Cowboys than the NBA team over there. He does not even have to pay tax. Why would he leave that for the Knicks?
Let’s face it, Knicks fans. Playing for the Knicks is not what it is cracked up to be. So many great players decided it was not worth playing for this sorry franchise a long time ago. It’s hard to believe playing at the Garden would hold much appeal for Brunson. He would be no different than any other NBA player.
It’s hard to believe his father’s presence is going to sway Brunson to leave Dallas. If anything, he would likely want to get out of his father’s shadow and live his own life.
The Knicks are banking on it, though, and it shows you this franchise still does not understand that the appeal of playing in New York sways no one anymore. Hiring the father to sway the son just seems like a desperate Hail Mary.
Again, it should be asked: Is hiring Brunson despite his baggage worth it? Is it really worth the trouble?
It’s not like he is a coach in waiting, which is why Thibodeau wouldn’t mind hiring him since he is a loyal lieutenant. It’s hard to believe he would offer any value.
Sorry, but a guy that uses women as an instrument to harass and abuse is one that has no value to an organization.
Shame on the Knicks and Dolan for still not learning their lesson from two decades ago.
This writer can be reached on Twitter at: @LeslieMonteiro6