The Tennessean’s Bill Byler on the drama surrounding the ABA’s Nashville Rhythm.
A 110-109 Nashville Rhythm win over the visiting Kansas City Knights last night was overshadowed by the firing of Coach Ashley McElhiney.
Rhythm co-owner Sally Anthony fired McElhiney following an on-court disagreement between the two regarding former Vanderbilt star Matt Freije’s playing time.
”I called my coach a couple of hours before the game and said I don’t want him playing,” Anthony said. ”She ignored me. I walked up to her. I walked onto the court and said I’m her boss and she needed to bench him.”
The discussion began during the third quarter. Anthony (above) came onto the court during play and attempted to remove McElhiney as coach of the team. Anthony was eventually restrained by security guards and taken off the floor.
The distraction drew the attention of several fans, and Rhythm Assistant Coach Scott Flatt was drawn away from the bench to assist in the matter. McElhiney, meanwhile, shrugged off the incident and went on to coach the Rhythm to victory.
Anthony said her actions came in her attempt to protect her players.
”My co-owner (Tony Bucher) and my GM (Daniel Bucher) decided to pay Matt Freije to have the name there,” Anthony told The Tennessean after the game. ”He came in for two games. Our players are struggling financially.”
Freije, who according to Anthony earned $10,000 for the two games, started and played most of the game last night. Anthony said it was McElhiney’s decision to play Freije.
”She looked me right in the face and said she wouldn’t do it,” Anthony said ”She’s fired as of now. The thing with us has always been women can do it just as much as men can. She will answer to no man, but she won’t answer to me either.”
After the game, Anthony also got into a conflict with Jason Sonn ” the brother of injured Rhythm player Adam Sonn.
Anthony shoved Jason Sonn, used foul language, and directed an inappropriate hand gesture toward him.
”She’s delusional and she thinks she’s bigger than she really is,” Jason Sonn said of Anthony.