NEW YORK - Knicks head coach Isiah Thomas urged a team cheerleader to flirt with NBA referees to "make them happy'' and Stephon Marbury had sex with a team employee who felt coerced into the liaison, court papers charge.
The stunning accusations surfaced in papers filed on Friday by fired Knicks executive Anucha Browne Sanders in a bid to thwart Madison Square Garden's attempt to derail her sex harassment suit.
The latest charges - dismissed by the Knicks' front office on Friday - were gathered from depositions that dozens of Garden employees gave during the past year.
The sordid allegations include:
-Thomas allegedly urged Knicks cheerleader Petra Pope to cozy up to the referees before a game against the Nets in 2004.
"What she told me was that Isiah asked her to go into the referees' locker room and make them happy,'' Browne Sanders testified. "I asked her to tell me what that meant and she said, 'Well, he wanted me to flirt with the referees.'''
She said Pope told her she reluctantly did as she was asked.
-In November 2005 a member of Browne Sanders' staff told her and another female Garden executive that she had sex with Marbury in a car after a boozed-filled night at a "gentleman's club.''
The woman said Marbury text-messaged her a few day later saying, "I want some more of that,'' according to court documents.
The woman told her bosses the sex was consensual. But she also said "she did not believe she could say no because of who Marbury is,'' according to the court documents.
-Browne Sanders claims Marbury called her a "black b-'' after she complained that the star guard's cousin - who also was employed by the Knicks - had been making graphic sexual comments to her staff.
But Knicks brass said in a statement that the suit filed by the team's former senior vice president for marketing and business operations was "riddled with fabrications.''
Browne Sanders, 44, was fired "for poor performance and manipulating subordinates for personal gain,'' the statement said.
At one point the Garden was ready to make the case go away with cash, according to court papers. But when Browne Sanders' lawyers asked for $6 million in 2005, Garden Chairman Jim Dolan called it "ridiculous'' and nixed the payout, the papers said.
Earlier that year, Browne Sanders was given a $75,000 raise and her annual salary jumped to $250,000. She said she was told she was doing a terrific job and, with the Garden's backing, was named to the Sports Business Journal's list of top professionals.
She now works for a nonprofit and makes about half of her Garden salary.
The former Northwestern University basketball star from Brooklyn said she repeatedly clashed with Thomas, who she said told people he loved her when he wasn't calling her a "b--.''
At a practice in October 2005, she claims Thomas said it was "distracting to work with someone who was so attractive.''
In his deposition, Thomas denied any fireworks. "I'm not attracted to her, no,'' he said.
Leo Standora contributed to this report.
(c) 2007, New York Daily News. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.