The last 1/3 of the column is about the Pacers, Isiah and Jamaal. I don't think this ever has been mentioned before. And I cannot believe so few of his teammates went to the funeral.
THE UNTOLD STORY
By PETER VECSEY
December 4, 2007 -- IN theory, Cablevision is a communications conglomerate. Daily we're bombarded with commercials boasting about its capability of putting subscribers in instant touch with the world by phone, TV and the Internet.
Yet the company's decision-makers at Madison Square Garden could not or would not relay a life-and-death message to an employee in the same building Sunday night until he finished his job.
Immediately upon learning Donald Marbury Sr. had suffered chest pains and left the Knicks-Suns game at halftime for the hospital, where he died soon after, those in authority should have apprised Stephon of his already ailing dad's condition.
They flagrantly failed to do so.
Who doesn't find this both incomprehensible and reprehensible?
As usual, Steve Mills and Isiah Thomas had no clue how to deal with a critical situation.
Once again, the Garden president and Knicks president/coach handled things ineptly and inappropriately.
Even if Mills and Thomas were not aware of what had happened to Donald Sr. until the Suns' 11-point victory had been concluded, even if it was the fault of some other dope down their cheesy chain of command (surely someone in security knew an ambulance was called for the 68-year-old), the buck stops at the bosses, starting with Chuck and James Dolan.
Isn't that what Thomas finally owned up to recently? Isn't that what he keeps telling us? That "It's on me!" Well, it is on Thomas, and it's on Mills, and most of all it's on the "May We Offer Our ConDolances."
Together this familiarity of fools has created a contaminated atmosphere at the Garden where irrationality and insensitivity rules, and underlings conduct themselves accordingly, petrified to say or do anything without the expressed consent of Sonny Superior.
What an inexcusable fiasco!
Imagine how we'd feel had our old man, sitting just rows away, required a stretcher and we weren't at once alerted.
Imagine how we'd feel had our employer taken it upon himself to hold back such serious info for whatever obtuse reason.
Imagine how we'd feel had someone denied us possibly a last chance to see and talk to our father while he was still alive.
Reports claim a family member said not to burden Stephon with the emergency. As if the game were more important. The reality is, it wasn't up to Mills or Thomas or any other dimwit down the food chain to keep the plight of Donald Sr. on the down low. This was his father. As soon as Garden personnel knew there was a crisis, Stephon deserved to be the very next person to hear about it; let him decide what to do.
Both Mills and Thomas have lost fathers. They should know better. Whom were they trying to protect, Stephon or the Knicks? Thomas is on the record saying he'd trade his mother to improve the team (i.e., win). At the start of the fourth quarter, the Knicks only trailed the Suns by one.
Am I being way too harsh? Stick around for the column closer and then decide.
Before going there, Mills and Thomas are so over their heads they even mismanaged the postgame information process. With an opportunity to pretend they're a class organization and explain to the media - at Isiah's ritualistic postgame press conference - what had happened, everything was kept a secret for 45 minutes or more.
We're told the Knicks didn't want any members of the Marbury family to first hear about Donald's death on the 11 o'clock news.
Sounds like another one of Thomas' genius thoughts. How long has it been since anybody near a TV isn't also equipped with a cell or conventional phone? Bad news travels fast, especially within a family as supportive and in touch with each other as the Marbury clan.
What Thomas should've done was to inform the media of the tragedy, ask it to respect Marbury's grief/privacy if you see him in the locker room or hallway, and to please restrict questions strictly to the game.
What Thomas should've told the gathering is this: "We know you have a job to do and deadlines to meet, but right now we're a shaken team, our prayers go out to Stephon and his family, but right now you know as much as we do about this."
Instead Thomas left everybody wondering why he refused to discuss the first few minutes of the fourth quarter when the game got away from the Knicks. Is that when Marbury "actually" found out his father had left? Did he hear it from Thomas or a family friend?
Either way, if indeed that happened, you'd think Thomas would've been sufficiently concerned about his player's head and heart to get him out of the game and on his way to the hospital. But after all the craziness and unanswered questions that continue to surround Marbury's recent AWOL (involving, ironically, these same Suns), I guess that would be too much common sense to expect.
Let's face it, if this weren't one of the NBA's all-time dysfunctional operations and wasn't run by aberrant behaviorists I wouldn't be throwing this out there.
Additionally, I know things about Thomas that convinced me long ago he cares little about his players and mostly about saving his job; winning is somewhere in between.
Jamaal Tinsley grew up an Isiah Thomas fan, the reason he wears No. 11, yet found out early as a Pacer how quickly Isiah would write you off if you didn't put him ahead of personal matters.
When Jamaal needed time off to visit his cancer-stricken mother in Maryland during the '02-'03 season, Thomas offered none of his infamous love or even a little sympathy. In fact, had team president Donnie Walsh not given permission, I'm not so sure Jamaal would've been excused.
When Jamaal's mother died March 24, 2003, the Pacers chartered a plane on an ensuing practice day to take the team to the Brooklyn wake. Only four teammates were decent enough human beings to make the trip: Jeff Foster, Jonathan Bender, Al Harrington and one other whose name escapes me.
Team captain Reggie Miller, who comes from a solid family and should know better and rags players on TNT for not doing the right thing on and off the court, stayed home.
So did Thomas; you remember him, that great leader of men often heard spouting how youngbloods need strong guidance and a positive example. How can a coach ask players to dig in on defense as a team and not insist they comfort a teammate as a unit?
Worse yet, Thomas forbid his assistant coaches to board the charter.
No matter how much success Larry Bird attains in Indiana he'll never top that first command to fire Thomas.