Isiah Thomas Named President of the New York Liberty
Also Takes Ownership Interest in the Team
NEW YORK (May 5, 2015) —The New York Liberty and Hall of Famer
“In the fall, Isiah and I began discussions about a possible role for him with the Liberty. Since that time, Isiah has been advising the team, and we are very pleased with the results. He has overseen the strengthening of our coaching staff, with the return of three-time WNBA Champion head coach Bill Laimbeer and the hiring of Herb Williams as assistant coach, as well as our recent free agent signings, draft strategy, trade for Epiphanny Prince and the return of Liberty legend, Teresa Weatherspoon,” said Mr. James Dolan, executive chairman, The Madison Square Garden Company. “Now, we’ve agreed that it is time for him to take a lead role with the team as president, and through his ownership interest. He’s an excellent judge of talent, and I’m confident that he will put all of his energy and experience into making the Liberty a perennially competitive and successful team.”
Mr. Thomas said: “I am honored to have the opportunity to lead the New York Liberty and help the franchise reclaim its position as one of the elite teams in the WNBA. Following a conversation with Jim about his thoughts on the franchise, I expressed my interest and enthusiasm for taking responsibility for both the basketball and business operations, as well as for taking an ownership interest in the team. To me, basketball is basketball. These women are outstanding athletes who want to compete for a championship in New York. I look forward to this challenge – not just to win a title, but also to help broaden the team’s fanbase.”
The New York Liberty was founded in 1996 as one of eight original members of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). The team has qualified for the WNBA Playoffs in 12 of its 18 seasons, with four trips to the Finals in 1997, 1999, 2000, and 2002.
Thomas has been widely recognized for his contributions in all levels of professional basketball, including an induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, as well as for his successful business initiatives and philanthropic endeavors. After his collegiate career at Indiana University, where he won the NCAA championship in 1981, he spent 13 years as a point guard for the Detroit Pistons (1981-1994), where his exceptional basketball skills and leadership helped guide the Pistons to back-to-back championships in 1988 and 1989. While a Piston, Thomas was involved for 11 years (1983-1994) with the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), where he first served as a player representative and then as vice president, before being elected president in 1988, a role he held through 1994. During his time with the NBPA, he helped establish four historic Collective Bargaining Agreements and successfully pushed to raise the average NBA player’s salary, while using his marketing expertise to help expand professional basketball into a multi-billion dollar industry.
After retiring from the NBA, Thomas took a front office position as part owner and executive vice president of the Toronto Raptors expansion team. He also served as head coach of the Indiana Pacers; president, general manager and coach of the New York Knicks; and was owner of the Continental Basketball Association. Thomas, who recently received his Masters in Education from the University of California at Berkeley, currently serves as an NBATV analyst and is a regular contributor to NBA.com and the Huffington Post.
Thomas’ business career includes serving as chairman and chief executive officer of Isiah International LLC, an investment holdings company, that includes the companies: Isiah Real Estate, a development firm specializing in commercial properties; TAND Properties, a property management firm, private equity and asset management firm; Isiah Marketing, Advertising and Public Relations; and GRE3N Waste Removal. Thomas also co-owns RE3 Recycling with his daughter Lauren and has other business investments that include: Popcorn Indiana, Pasha’s Restaurant in Miami, Southern Hospitality BBQ, and Sweetgreen. In July 2014, Thomas/The Gateway Partners were awarded the contract to develop the one-million-square-foot mixed-use Gateway Development in the Illinois Medical District on Chicago’s near West Side.
Thomas dedicates a large portion of his time to working with youth programs in urban communities. Inspired by his mother, Thomas founded Mary’s Court in her honor to support the health, safety, academic and personal achievement of youth in Chicago and around the country. Thomas has gained national recognition for his role in Chicago’s Peace Tournaments and his advocacy to prevent youth violence. With Father Michael Pfleger, Thomas launched the Peace Tournaments to reduce gang violence through communication and athletics. In early 2013, Thomas, in partnership with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, started a fundraising campaign to launch the Windy City Hoops program in 10 park districts, offering a safe haven to kids and families through sports, and now serves on the board of Get In Chicago. He has also awarded more than 100 scholarships to criminal justice students through The Isiah Thomas Scholarship at Indiana University and recently announced a new annual scholarship at the University of California at Berkeley in the African American Studies department.
Season ticket packages are available by calling 212-465-6073 or by visiting NYLiberty.com.
About The Madison Square Garden Company
The Madison Square Garden Company is a fully-integrated sports, media and entertainment business. The Company is comprised of three business segments: MSG Sports, MSG Media and MSG Entertainment, which are strategically aligned to work together to drive the Company's overall business, which is built on a foundation of iconic venues and compelling content that the company creates, produces, presents and/or distributes through its programming networks and other media assets. MSG Sports owns and operates the following sports franchises: the New York Knicks (NBA), the New York Rangers (NHL), the New York Liberty (WNBA), the Westchester Knicks (NBADL) and the Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL). MSG Sports also features the presentation of a wide variety of live sporting events including professional boxing, college basketball, bull riding and tennis. MSG Media is a leader in production and content development for multiple distribution platforms, including content originating from the Company’s venues. MSG Media’s television networks consist of regional sports networks, MSG Network and MSG+, collectively referred to as MSG Networks. MSG Entertainment is one of the country's leaders in live entertainment. MSG Entertainment creates, produces and/or presents a variety of live productions, including the Radio City Christmas Spectacular featuring the Rockettes. MSG Entertainment also presents or hosts other live entertainment events such as concerts, family shows and special events in the Company’s diverse collection of venues. These venues consist of Madison Square Garden, The Theater at Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, the Beacon Theatre, the Forum in Inglewood, CA, The Chicago Theatre, and the Wang Theatre in Boston, MA. More information is available at www.themadisonsquaregardencompany.com.