Atlanta Hawks head coach Nate McMillan is being penalized after alleging the NBA “needs and wants” the New York Knicks to beat his squad in the first round of the playoffs.
McMillan has been fined $25,000 for “detrimental public comments asserting bias by the NBA,” per Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic.
Hawks head coach Nate McMillan has been fined $25,000 for detrimental public comments asserting bias by the NBA relating to the 2020-21 playoffs.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) May 20, 2021
The Hawks did not hold back when suggesting the NBA would prefer a big-market team like the Knicks advance further in the playoffs:
“Absolutely, I’ve talked about that to the team a lot. Basically, I’ve gone as far as saying the league wants this,” McMillan said Wednesday on a Zoom call, per 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 even discussed how the Hawks and Knicks were originally slated to possibly begin their series on Saturday, but the NBA moved Game 1 to Sunday. The series opener will, of course, be played at Madison Square Garden.
Let’s be real here: McMillan probably isn’t wrong. The NBA naturally benefits when a big-market team makes a deep playoff run. It attracts more viewers and thus better ratings. Not to mention, the Knicks–one of the most storied franchises in league history–have not been in the playoffs since 2013.
One might suggest the Hawks should not need added motivation. It’s the playoffs. Nevertheless, McMillan said he hopes the alleged favoritism will inspire his guys to play good basketball.