Tom Thibodeau responds to Hawks coach claiming that NBA wants Knicks to win
Despite his opposing coach’s assertion, Tom Thibodeau is not too convinced that the NBA has a pro-New York Knicks bias.
On Friday, the Knicks head coach Thibodeau responded to recent comments made by Atlanta Hawks counterpart Nate McMillan. In an effort to motivate his team against the Knicks in their first-round series, McMillan told them that the league wants the big-market Knicks to make a deep playoff run.
Thibodeau said that he did not get the impression that the NBA preferred the Knicks based on an incident in the 1997 playoffs, per Marc Berman of the New York Post. Thibodeau was a Knicks assistant under Jeff Van Gundy in a second-round series against the Miami Heat. A brawl ensued in Game 5 when Heat center PJ Brown threw down Knicks guard Charlie Ward. A total of six Knicks were suspended for leaving the bench, including Patrick Ewing, John Starks, and Allan Houston. That left the Knicks severely undermanned for the rest of the series, and they blew a 3-1 lead to lose in seven games.
History aside, the NBA did not care for McMillan’s remarks and responded by handing the Hawks coach a pretty hefty fine. The league is now run by a different commissioner than it was in 1997. But Thibodeau will still have a hard time believing that his team has any built-in advantage against Atlanta.