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WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. - The Knicks slumped to a 1-9 start last night, the worst start in their history, and the man fans hold most responsible is Isiah Thomas. He was back in the area, just down the Garden State Parkway, as his Florida International team got mauled 99-70 by Monmouth and he got mocked by their fans.

The students at the new $57 million Multipurpose Activity Center booed him during introductions, cursed him at halftime, and jeered throughout with taunts of "Magic Hates You!," "Anucha Sanders!" and even "Take Lunesta!"

"Whenever you're in a Basketball arena, people are going to say things - that's just part of it. It was all in good fun," Thomas said. "Some people take it to extreme, and the security here was great with the one person I thought took it to the extreme.

"That's sport. Go all the way back to the Romans - that's what happens in the arena. The fans were great for the home team, and not so great for the visiting team."

All except one, an older non-student who got confrontational, though he did not get close enough to get physical.

"He got out of line and security put him back in line. He didn't grab me. Then I'd have had the right to go Charles Barkley on him," Thomas said with his trademark megawatt smile, not dimmed by 41/2 horrid years with the Knicks , or by a 29-point rout, or even by his 86-year-old mother Mary's heart surgery on Monday.

"She's doing much better. She had a tough surgery and pulled through," said Thomas, who has been shuttling between Miami and Chicago to look after her. "She's a tough lady, and a fighter. It's been a stressful week."

Thomas and drama go together. He was named in a suit by Sanders that ended up costing the Garden $11 million. The case weighed on him during his 23-59 final season with the Knicks and caused a year of sleepless nights that led to him overdosing on sleeping pills last October.

"With the Knicks , I tried as hard as I possibly could to build it, and we've had some talented people, good Basketball minds," Thomas said. "Every guy that's come into the Knicks has his own idea of how to fix it. A lot of us have failed. I hope [team president Donnie Walsh] has success."

Thomas needed a change of scenery, but for all his changes, FIU (0-2) looked a lot like his Knicks . They had just nine assists to 21 turnovers, they shot 2-of-18 on 3-pointers, and they played no defense, letting Monmouth shoot 63.3 percent from the floor.

Monmouth (1-0) hit six of their first eight shots to take a 17-4 lead. Travis Taylor's 18-point, five board, four-assist night led five Hawks in double figures, and their students stormed the court at the buzzer.

"It is [tough]. You want to react to it, but you can't," said FIU's Marvin Roberts, a Brooklynite who had a game-high 21 points. "That's what he teaches us, to be men and handle ourselves real well."

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Added: November 17, 2009


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