Hawks coach Nate McMillan fined $25K for comments about NBA playoffs
Atlanta Hawks interim head coach Nate McMillan is taking a unique approach to motivating his players ahead of their playoff series against the New York Knicks, and his decision to share that tactic has resulted in a hefty fine.
In a Zoom call with reporters on Wednesday, McMillan said he has instilled an underdog mentality in his players by telling them no one wants them to win the series — including the NBA. McMillan believes the NBA wants the Knicks to make a deep postseason run because they play in a premier market and have not been to the playoffs in several years.
“Basically, I’ve gone as far as saying the league wants this,” McMillan said, via Peter Botte of the New York Post. “They need this, New York, this is a big market for the league, and New York has been out of the playoffs for a number of years. And this is a team that our league, they want to see — there’s a huge fan base — and they want to see New York in the playoffs.”
McMillan said the fact that the opening game of the series was moved to Sunday is proof that “everybody wants to see this,” including the NBA.
“So, yes, we have talked about that, about the advantages of this situation and some things that we’re going to have to face, with everyone picking New York to win and a lot of folks wanting to see New York in the playoffs,” the coach added. “It’s a battle, it’s a challenge, just playing New York, all that comes with it. … They’ve had a really good season, and I think the NBA is excited about having them back in the playoffs.”
The NBA did not appreciate McMillan insinuating that league officials and executives are rooting for one team over another. On Thursday, the NBA announced that McMillan has been fined $25,000 for “detrimental public comments asserting bias by the NBA.”
McMillan is not wrong. The Knicks are obviously a massive draw, and NBA ratings will reflect that if they make a deep playoff run. Heck, one of the league’s biggest stars even recently explained why he is happy to see the Knicks winning again. All that said, you can understand why the NBA can’t allow its coaches to publicly accuse the league of being biased.