NEW YORK - A suburban police chief likened the conflicting accounts of an accidental overdose at Isiah Thomas’ home to a “cover-up” and rebuked the former New York Knicks coach Saturday for saying it was his teenage daughter who required treatment.
“It wasn’t his daughter,” Harrison Police Chief David Hall told The Associated Press. “And why they’re throwing her under the bus is beyond my ability to understand.”
Authorities were called early Friday to Thomas’ Westchester County home, where police said a 47-year-old man was taken to the hospital and treated for an overdose of sleeping pills. Hall said Tuesday taht officers found the overdose victim passed out on the floor of Thomas’ home and gave him oxygen before medics took him away in a gurney to the hospital.
Several media outlets reported that police confirmed it was Thomas who went to the hospital.
But reached on his cell phone Friday, the 47-year-old NBA great told the New York Post he had not been treated for a sleeping pill overdose, and that it was 17-year-old daughter Lauren who had a medical issue.
It “wasn’t an overdose,” he told the newspaper. “My daughter is very down right now. None of us are OK.”
Hall forcefully refuted Thomas’ statement.
“I understand that this person claims it was his daughter; he is lying," he said. "It was definitely not his daughter, it was a male. We know the difference between a 47-year-old black male and a young black female.”
“These people should learn something from Richard Nixon — it’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up,” he added.
Voice mails and text messages from the AP were left on Thomas’ cell phone Saturday. Messages left earlier with Thomas’ publicist and two of his attorneys were not returned.
Thomas’ 20-year-old son, Joshua, lashed out at Hall’s comments.
“Saying that someone is being thrown under the bus when you are talking about health issues is disrespectful,” the Indiana University student wrote in a text to the New York Daily News.
“I love both my sister and dad and am glad that both are doing well,” he told the newspaper. “Thanks for all the support, but as a family we are fine and stronger than ever.”
On Friday, he also said it was his sister, not his father, who required treatment.
No suicide note was found, and police were classifying the case as an “accidental drug overdose” on “a number” of prescription sleeping pills, Hall said.
Hall would not confirm the identity of the hospitalized man.
The developments, days before the start of another season, are the latest drama in what has been a difficult year for Thomas.
He was fired as the Knicks’ coach April 18 after a season of dreadful basketball, a tawdry sexual harassment lawsuit and unending chants from fans demanding his dismissal. Still, he was retained by the organization as an adviser and consultant.
“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.”
An ambulance and two police officers responded to a 911 call that came in from the Thomas home a couple minutes after midnight, Hall said. The victim was taken about 5 miles from the home to White Plains Hospital Center, where officials declined to identify the overdose patient.
Thomas’ house is on a luxury cul de sac of multimillion-dollar homes, about 30 miles from midtown Manhattan.
As a player, Thomas won NBA titles with the Detroit Pistons in 1989 and 1990 and an NCAA championship with Indiana in 1981. He joined the Knicks as the team president in 2003 and became coach in June 2006 after Larry Brown was fired.
Last season, Thomas drew the wrath of fans, who serenaded him nightly with 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.
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The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
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