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Knicks’ owner Dolan on Isiah Thomas: “I’ve always understood him”

I don’t know about you, but if a “friend” of mine cost me $11.6 million dollars because he sexually harassed another one of my employees, that would pretty much end the friendship.

Not so with James Dolan and Isiah Thomas — as we covered earlier today, Dolan doesn’t believe it.

Dolan believes his friend Thomas. Despite everything. The story of their continuing friendship is at the heart of a segment on HBO’s “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel” scheduled to air Tuesday night. In it Dolan makes some eyebrow-raising statements.

• “I think I’ve always understood him.”

• Dolan says he has “a tremendous amount of respect” for Thomas’ “skill and his talent.”

“I don’t know if I can explain it other than that there’s something inside of both of us that’s really quite similar: the tenacity, the stubbornness. Isiah’s a guy who doesn’t believe in his limitations, and I’m a guy who doesn’t believe in his limitations.”

• About those sexual harassment charges, a jury may have believed them but Dolan said he thinks Anucha Browne Sanders made up “a bunch” of the allegations against Thomas back in 2007. “I think a bunch of it she did, yes.”

• Did Thomas understand how many fans were very upset when he — a man a jury found to have committed harassment — was put him in charge of the New York Liberty WNBA team? “We totally understood that, got it, accepted it. And not only accepted it, but respected their thoughts, their feelings around this issue.”

Under Thomas, the Liberty were the top seed in the East and made it to the conference finals before losing. But winning is not the point, it’s the optics. And how it brings Thomas and his voice back into Madison Square Garden, just down the hall from Dolan.

Set your DVRs for HBO on Tuesday night. Watch Dolan, then remember the real reason Phil Jackson is paid $12 million a year is to keep that owner at arm’s length from any actual basketball decisions.