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John Mayer Was the Second-Tallest Man at the Sunshine Sachs Holiday Party

Santa
What's that sucking sound? Oh, right — that's the Ghost of Christmas Present siphoning all feeling but holiday cheer out of the city. It's December, people, and you know what that means. Company holiday parties! This is the week the season kicks into high gear, and so we're reintroducing our Office-Party Patrol feature. Last year, we had dedicated partygoer Julia Allison crash company booze fests, but now she is too booby and famous, so we're doing it ourselves. If we can't get into a party, we'll accost the drunkest person we see leaving it and find out everything you're missing. In today's premier installment, we take you to the ever-evolving Sunshine Sachs PR party and the ever-devolving CollegeHumor.com fête — and we rank each one for food, drink, venue, debauchery, and exclusivity. Who won? Don't be silly people — at office holiday parties, nobody wins.

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The Knicks Have Us All in a Tizzy

Thomas
The Knicks are in such a puzzling downward spiral that Daily News reporters can't even agree on what's up with their favorite team. After coach Isiah Thomas kicked the whole team off the court during practice yesterday for lack of "hustle," the paper's main article claims that there is "increasing speculation that Thomas is on the verge of being fired." "It is a three-ring circus" among the players and staff, said a source. "It's getting worse." But Mike Lupica, the paper's legendary sports columnist, says "Isiah Thomas can't get fired for anything … Jimmy [Dolan, chairman of the Knicks] still believes in Isiah, and there is no reason to believe that he's going to stop any time soon." Lupica suggests Dolan and Thomas stand in the middle of the Garden have a town-hall-style meeting, listening to what their paying fans have to say about the way they are destroying New York's team. They'd never do it, but we're desperately hoping that when fans start speaking with their wallets and stop buying tickets to watch team's debacles, the pair will start listening up. That or Jimmy's dad, Charles, will finally pull off his belt and whup the team (and his son) back into shape. Can we say "whup"? Does that make us sound too butch? Thomas Kicks Knicks Out Of Practice [NYDN] Jim Dolan Still Listening to Isiah Thomas [NYDN]

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Stephon Has an Alibi, and It's a Good One

Marbury
Okay, remember yesterday when everyone made such a big deal out of Stephon Marbury's fleeing the Knicks in Phoenix and returning to New York all of a sudden? Nobody knew quite what was going on, not even Isiah Thomas, who had gotten in a nasty fight with Marbury on the team plane when he told the point guard he wouldn't be starting in the night's game. This spurred a lot of anti-Marbury sentiment, with columnists and pundits and us grumpily speculating as to what he might have been up to. Today, the Times figured at least part of it out. If you haven't read about his activities during his two-day break, pick the most likely-sounding scenario from the below list: A) He was plotting revenge on Thomas and spending his time figuring out how, as he put it, to "fuck him first."
B) He was having sex with an intern in a truck.
C) He was at a Coney Island housing project grieving with the family of a deceased basketball coach who had mentored hundreds of talented players in the tough neighborhood, including Marbury (who once gave the coach a white Cadillac with vanity plates). Ding Ding Ding! The Times says it's C. Who's the jerk now? A Mentor of Street Ball Dies, and a Missing Knick Appears [NYT] Earlier: Marbury Stephs on All Our Dreams

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Marbury Stephs on All Our Dreams

Marbury
A day after Stephon Marbury fled Phoenix after a major blowout with Knicks coach Isiah Thomas, and two days after the Daily News came out with a report that the point guard's future with the team is in doubt, everybody is still clutching for information. ESPN.com has started a "Marbury Watch," which is of course what any Website should do on such an occasion, and the Times called the whole thing "a startling sign of how badly his once-promising career has eroded." The News asked, "When does Thomas officially get put on notice? … Why should Thomas, after all he's done to build nothing more than a mediocre team for years to come, be allowed to make what would be another radical, franchise-changing move?" And the Post, of course, put Marbury's face on a milk carton and called him a "Basket Case." But nearly everybody, including us, is obsessed with what Marbury shrieked to his team after hearing he wouldn't start anymore: "Isiah has to start me," he reportedly ranted. "I've got so much [stuff] on Isiah and he knows it. He thinks he can [get] me. But I'll [get] him first. You have no idea what I know." First of all, it's awesome how they translate Marbury's swears for us, as though we wouldn't understand what he meant if they said "s---, f---, f---." And second, OH YES. Stephon Marbury threatens to dish info about Isiah Thomas [NYDN] Traveling Marbury [NYP] Unhappy Marbury Leaves Knicks Trip [ESPN] Marbury Leaves Knicks In Dispute [NYT]

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Stephon Marbury Pouts, Whines, Goes Missing

Marbury
After a difficult summer and amid rumors he's leaving the team permanently, Knicks point guard Stephon Marbury stomped out of the team's shootaround in Phoenix this morning, reportedly because Knicks coach Isiah Thomas declined to put him in tonight's starting lineup after his lackluster defense in Miami this past weekend. According to the Post, Marbury has told friends "he feels he's best playing 40 minutes a night and would struggle in a non-starting role." Thomas, sounding like any parent with a runaway teenager, appealed for the return of the 30-year-old player through the press. "We hope he's at the game," he told the Post. "If not, make no mistake about it, we do want him as a member of this basketball team." Marbury Bolts From Knicks [NYP] Related: Stephon Marbury's Days With the Knicks May Be Numbered [NYDN]

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Who Do You Like?

It Happened This Week
As Indian summer continued its extended run last week, some of the most popular kids in town found themselves getting the cold shoulder. A federal lawsuit charged Bloomberg LP discriminates against pregnant women, and BMOC Mike Bloomberg promptly reminded us that he no longer runs his namesake company. (Later in the week, a little red in the face, he admitted he regularly talks to senior executives there.) Onetime Most Likely to Succeed Barack Obama fell 33 points behind Hillary Clinton in the latest presidential poll.

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Isiah Thomas, MSG, Found Guilty of Sexual Harassment

Anucha Brown Sanders
Surprising nobody but Madison Square Garden officials themselves, a jury just found Isiah Thomas and the Knicks organization (part of MSG) guilty of the sexual harassment of Anucha Brown Sanders. After weeks of embarrassing revelations and accusations, the jury decided that Thomas should not have to pay punitive damages, but that MSG and its head honcho, Jimmy Dolan, should. No numbers have been announced just yet, but after just about everyone from Dolan down revealed stunningly archaic attitudes about race and gender in the workplace, we're guessing Browne Sanders's compensation will be pricey enough to shock them into the new century. Or, at the very least, it'll prevent them from wasting any more money on expensive players who don't win titles. It's a victory for everyone! Sexual Harassment at the Garden [NYT] Earlier: Our Knicks Coverage

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Isiah Thomas Needs to Take a Page From the Book of Jane

Isiah Thomas
So it appears the jury in the Isiah Thomas sexual-harassment suit plans to side with Anucha Browne Sanders. A note from the panel to the judge yesterday said they were deadlocked over whether to make the Knicks coach pony up for punitive damages, as apparently there is a lone holdout who thinks he needs to save his money for more fancy ties. (We bet we know who that is.) Having deliberated overnight, they're expected to come out with a verdict today (or the Knicks will finally settle). In the meantime, the Daily News' Jane Ridley is in a reflective mood, and today, she offers up more of her particular brand of Confucian wisdom: "Justice is not like a basketball court," she cautions. "Tides are rarely turned by a single flashy play or a lucky catch." That’s so Jane!

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Thinking Big

It Happened this Week
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s request to lay a wreath at ground zero was the unlikeliest wish in a week of ambitious schemes. Hillary Clinton took a second swing at universal health care, laying out a $110 billion program. Rudy Giuliani crossed the pond to London to rub shoulders with Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, and Gordon Brown, then suggested that Israel join nato. Dan Rather sued CBS for $70 million.

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Dolan's Faith in Thomas as Delusional in Court as on Court

Pricks
Just when you thought their sexual-harassment trial couldn't get any more damaging for the Knicks, they shoot themselves in the foot. In a taped deposition by Madison Square Garden head honcho Jimmy Dolan, shown yesterday in court, the burly boss explained that plaintiff Anucha Browne Sanders was fired because she made sexual-harassment charges. And incidentally, at the Garden, it's not harassment to use the N-word to describe a black person (this was revealed by aging exec Rusty McCormack. Andrea Peyser, back on her game since yesterday, describes McCormack as having "the complexion the approximate shade of ripe cheese.") Of course, the question blaring from every news outlet is "Why are they still in this trial? Settle already!" The answer is simpler than you think.

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In Knicks Drama, Peyser and Ridley Enter the Tabloid Ring

Pricks
Has anyone noticed that the Daily News is turning senior features writer Jane Ridley into a more reasoned version of Andrea Peyser? Today, the pair take on Isiah Thomas's weird double standard of debasement (it's not okay for a white man to call a black woman a "bitch," but if it's a black man, it's not so bad, goes the logic). "He should have shut up," Ridley writes of Isiah's videotaped deposition. "But his mouth, which matches his outsize ego – if not his brain – just kept on moving." Zing! "A gazillion dollar salary might get you designer suits and the best table in the restaurant, but it can't buy class and judgment," she adds. Pow! "What we saw for ourselves of Thomas yesterday was not only ugly, but pathetic." Splat! We eagerly flipped to Andrea to see her splenetic spin but were vastly disappointed. "Hang in there, Anucha," is all Peyser musters. "They fired the wrong person." Well, well, well. We're sure it was an off day, as Peyser is by far the best in the bile business. But Ridley appears to be gaining – and if she'd just replace her cute, smiley columnist photo with something more ghoulish, we might have a real battle here! Isiah Shows His True Colors – in Black and White [NYDN] The Twisted Racial Logic of a Knicko Sicko [NYP]

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Moving Along

Moving Along
The sixth anniversary of 9/11 came and went, with what has come to pass for normality on the city’s darkest date: a walk-through at ground zero for victims’ families, and Rudy Giuliani observing a rare moment of silence. Just like old times, a suspicious powder turned up in the mail room at the Standard & Poor’s offices. Census data found that blacks appear to be leaving the city — an exodus that may increase after 704 code violations were found at a single Harlem apartment building. The toxic oil spill under Greenpoint was discovered to be bigger than anyone had imagined. HIV infections were once again on the rise.

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Anucha Browne Sanders Continues Knicks Full Court Press

Anucha Browne Sanders
In a bizarre twist (as though there have been any twists that weren't bizarre) in the Isiah Thomas sexual harassment trial, the Post reports that a Knicks intern who succumbed to Stephon Marbury in the back of a car has agreed to testify for the defense. In other words, she's going to clear Marbury of any wrongdoing or inappropriate behavior (except, you know, cheating on his wife). This is an effort to clear up the impression that lawyers for plaintiff Anucha Browne Sanders are trying to create, which is that the Knicks enterprise is macho and sexist. But just as they try to staunch that wound, another one has sprung open. The Daily News reveals that Browne Sanders unearthed a Burn Book written by Madison Square Garden officials describing what they'd like to do to the comely Rangers ice dancers. And we're not talking about assisting with a double-hand lift. It boggles the mind why the Knicks haven't settled yet. This circus of sleaze is only going to get worse, and knowing this city's tabloids, it's only a matter of time before the team gets rechristened "The New York Dickerbockers." Stephon's Hoop Skirt to Testify [NYP] Ice-Skate Shocker Has 'Em Shivering [NYDN]

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Isiah Thomas Accused of Harassment, Heartache

Brooke Astor
After the first day of Isiah Thomas's sexual-harassment trial, we've learned that the Knicks coach is accused of calling a female vice-president a "bitch" and a "ho" in private conversations. Also, the VP, Anucha Browne Sanders, says he professed his love to her after a friendly game of horse. Sound confusing? How about this: When discussing season ticket sales with Thomas, she says he told her, "I don't give a fuck about these white people!" (Apparently, having Woody Allen in your audience makes everybody white.) Already, sports fans are murmuring that Thomas and the Knicks should settle the suit. Stephon Marbury and a slew of other high-profile witnesses are set to testify, which is bound to make the team's infrastructure look bad no matter the result of the trial. As for us, we're just glad we found a reason to care about the Knicks again. Browne-Sanders Slams Isiah Thomas in Sex-Harass Lawsuit [NYDN]

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The Return of Peter Gatien?

Deported former Limelight owner Peter Gatien might be coming back to the States because he is part Native American. CBS Evening News executive producer Rick Kaplan orchestrated an office dance-off to boost morale. Jewish boxer Dmitriy "Star of David" Salita, from Brooklyn, had his fight at Cipriani Downtown rescheduled because it fell on the Sabbath. Paris Hilton's crisis PR guy, Mike Sitrick, is the reason she's been out of the tabs lately, but friends say she can't keep up the act. Robin Williams went to an AA meeting in Greenwich. Cuba Gooding Jr. and Isiah Thomas hung out at Socialista.

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Guv Love?

The "tall and attractive" 25-year-old aide whom Jon Corzine may have been sitting next to at the time of his car crash was reassigned last month because she and the governor were allegedly getting too close. Larry and Laurie David may have split because Laurie had an affair with a married man on Martha's Vineyard. Some Columbia Records staffers are worried that producer Rick Rubin has been named co-head of the label, given that he has no executive experience. Richie Sambora dumped Denise Richards during a Hawaii vacation a few months ago; she'd been expecting him to propose. Michael Jackson placed a number of odd, ill-timed room-service orders at an inn in Maryland, but he did bless the manager. Oliver Platt is an ardent supporter of the business tactics of George Steinbrenner, whom he plays in The Bronx Is Burning. Lindsay Lohan is dropping booze for bottled water.

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The Knicks Have Made Progress, Evidently

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Cablevision honcho and Madison Square Garden chief Jim Dolan announced today that he's giving Knicks coach and president Isiah Thomas a multiyear contract extension based on the team's "evident progress" — a term that seems destined to join "mission accomplished" in the Optimist's Hall of Fame. Let's review what's evident, shall we? On the positive side, the Knicks have won 46 percent of their games this season (compared to just 28 percent last year) and are fighting for a playoff spot. On the negative, they're still the highest-paid team in the NBA (for which Isiah is largely to blame), winning even 46 percent of their games still means the Knicks are losing more than half, and they're playing mediocre ball against historically weak competition. In other words, the team's progress seems roughly on pace with that of the Second Avenue subway or the Freedom Tower. So while it's true they haven't measurably regressed, Dolan's use of the prefix "pro" strikes us as a bit much. If we were him, we might have played it safe and gone with "evident gress." There are definitely clear signs of gress. —Sam Anderson

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It's Shelly's Turn

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• The fate of Atlantic Yards now rests with State Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver, who controls one of three votes on the Public Authorities Control Board, which requires unanimity to pass a project — and he boasts an impressive megaproject kill ratio, having already done in the West Side stadium and put the brakes on Moynihan Station. If we were Ratner, we'd find some Lower East Side charities to fund right about now. [NYT] • Rudy Giuliani is out being presidential — or presidential candidate–ish, really. He's hitting the fund-raisers for "friends and family money," whatever that means; the first round starts tomorrow in midtown. He also booked a major appearance in California — the keynote address at the state GOP convention. [NYP] • The News' New Yorker of the Year: Bloomberg. Hizzoner is picked, among other things, for "restoring civility," the gun-control crusade, encouraging major construction, and defusing the Sean Bell situation. [NYDN] • Except we're not sure that last one's such a done deal: There's a growing push for police commissioner Ray Kelly to resign and for a special prosecutor to replace the Queens D.A. on the case. [amNY] • And, hardly anyone's New Yorker of the Year: Isiah Thomas, the underperforming Dolan hire who can't fire up the Knicks to win a game — but evidently has no trouble goading opponents into brawls. [NYDN]

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