Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Embattled former New York Knicks coach Isiah Thomas was at the center of reports about a drug overdose at his $4 million suburban New York home early Friday morning.
Police said a 47-year-old man was taken to the hospital and treated for an accidental overdose of sleeping pills at Thomas’ home.
Harrison Police Chief David Hall told the New York Daily News that the victim had consumed about 10 Lunesta sleeping pills.
“He was unconscious, but breathing on his own,” Hall said.
The Associated Press quoted Hall as saying it was not a suicide attempt: “We’re classifying it as an accidental overdose of prescription sleeping pills.”
The AP also said Hall refused to provide the victim’s identity. “I’m not going to confirm or deny that it was Isiah Thomas,” Hall said. “It was an individual at his home.”
But The New York Post and WCBS-TV in New York reported that the man taken to the hospital was Thomas. According to The Post, Harrison police said Thomas was taken to White Plains Hospital Center after police and an ambulance were summoned to his Purchase, N.Y., home after midnight following a 911 call.
Thomas denied being taken to the hospital when reached on his cell phone by The Post. He said his 17-year-old daughter Lauren was having an issue but it “wasn’t an overdose.”
“My daughter is very down right now. None of us are OK,” he told The Post.
Thomas told The Post there was an “incident” that occurred Thursday at Rye Country Day school, where his 6-foot-tall daughter is a senior basketball player. He refused to provide more details and told a reporter to call the school.
Donnie Walsh, who replaced Thomas as president of Knicks basketball operations, told the AP he had not spoken to Thomas, though others in the organization had.
“Isiah Thomas spoke with members of the New York Knicks organization and is OK,” the Knicks said in a statement. “He is dealing with a family matter, and we will have no further comment. He has asked that we respect his privacy, and we will.”
Thomas’ son, Joshua, 20, told the Daily News “Reports of sleeping pills are false.”He doesn’t take sleeping pills. He’s doesn’t really take anything that’s not organic.”
Joshua Thomas, a student at Indiana University, the school his father led to a national championship in 1981, told the Daily News that police went to his family’s home because his sister Lauren wasn’t feeling well. She suffers from hypoglycema, he said.
“He looked faint from stressing over her. They sat him down, let him drink some water. He’s fine.”
Joshua Thomas said his father and sister were both resting at a hospital in Greenwich, Conn.
Knicks forward Quentin Richardson told the AP he has called Thomas from time to time.
“This is our former coach, still a good friend and somebody I still look up to to this day. I mean, a Hall of Famer and all those different things,” Richardson said at Madison Square Garden before the Knicks’ exhibition game against New Jersey.
“This is life, this is something that happened. It’s an unfortunate situation, and we still don’t know the exact story or whatever happened. But I don’t look at something like this as a distraction; this is an unfortunate incident.”
Thomas was fired from the Knicks on April 18 after presiding over perhaps the most dismal era in the history of the franchise.
Last season, Thomas was found to have sexually harassed a former team employee, feuded with point guard Stephon Marbury and benched center Eddy Curry — the players Thomas acquired in the two biggest of a number of moves that never panned out.
He was serenaded nightly with Garden chants of “Fire Isiah!” When he was dismissed, his record in New York was 56-108. Overall, he is 187-223 as an NBA coach, leading the Indiana Pacers to the playoffs in three straight years from 2000-03.
Thomas was hired as the Knicks’ team president on Dec. 22, 2003. The Knicks made the playoffs that season but were swept by New Jersey and haven’t gone back despite their high-paid lineup.
Still, Garden chairman James Dolan remained confident in Thomas, making him coach in June 2006 after firing Larry Brown following one season.
As a player, Thomas was one of the NBA’s great point guards, winning NBA titles with the Detroit Pistons in 1989 and 1990.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.