Thomas says his mind 'never left basketball' during trial

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- New York Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said Wednesday his mind "never left basketball" throughout a three-week trial where he was found guilty of sexually harassing a former Knicks executive.

"Honestly, my head never left basketball. This is what I've done. This is what I do and this is what I think about the majority of the time," Thomas on the Knicks' second day of training camp.

Thomas said a day after the verdict that he wasn't worried about losing his job and didn't even talk with the team about the trial before practice.

"We came back extremely focused," Thomas said. "I just wanted to make sure we stayed focused and keep the team moving. We went right into practice."

He arrived in South Carolina in time to run Tuesday night's practice, just hours after a jury in New York found that Thomas and Madison Square Garden sexually harassed Anucha Browne Sanders.

The jury decided only MSG and chairman James Dolan should pay for harassing and firing Browne Sanders. The jury awarded punitive damages of $11.6 million.

Dolan wasn't at training camp Wednesday, Knicks spokesman
Jonathan Supranowitz said.

Thomas said it felt good to be back on the basketball court and see his players.

"The intensity is great. The energy that everyone is playing with is fantastic," he said.

Thomas said the team would not be distracted by the verdict, saying there was no impact on practice.

The jury needed roughly two days to find Thomas guilty and only about an hour to pile on the damages at the close of a trial rife with accounts of crude language and sexual escapades behind the scenes of a storied franchise.

The verdict spared Thomas himself from paying any damages, but it still amounted to another blemish on the resume of a two-time NBA champion.

Thomas and MSG have denied any wrongdoing, and the coach said Tuesday he would appeal.

The harassment verdict was partly anticlimactic, because the jury had sent a note to the judge Monday indicating that it believed Thomas, the Garden and Dolan sexually harassed Browne Sanders, a former vice president for marketing. A 44-year-old former Northwestern University basketball star, she is a married mother of three.

Thomas said to handle the demands of the lawsuit and preparing for camp, he worked harder in recent weeks, especially at night.

"We made sure that we were prepared and I made sure I was prepared and I did everything that I had to do," Thomas said.

Preparing for camp was easier for the Knicks' president of basketball operations this year because it's his second season as head coach.

"You call a play and you call a set and they know what to do and they know where to go. Things that, where to put in last year may have taken three days, now you can put it in a day, maybe a day and a half," he said. "Having been around the guys for a whole year and understanding the system and the culture that we have makes a big difference."