The 4-5 series in the Eastern Conference features a pair of up-and-coming squads, the New York Knicks and the Atlanta Hawks, going head-to-head in what should be a fun, evenly-matched slugfest. But before things tip off, the NBA had a bit of business to tend to which will cost Hawks coach Nate McMillan a hefty chunk of change.
The league announced that McMillan, who took over the job in an interim role earlier this year following the firing of Lloyd Pierce, was fined $25,000, citing “detrimental public comments asserting bias by the NBA relating to the 2020-21 Playoffs.”
The following was released by the NBA. pic.twitter.com/plTHpQQ1po
— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) May 20, 2021
This is a pretty major assertion for the league to make, especially when the comments McMillan doled out weren’t particularly controversial. Chris Kirschner of The Athletic identified the comments that led to the fine, and in them, McMillan said more or less what everyone has said about the Knicks for years: There is a desire for them to be good because they are the New York Knicks.
Hawks coach Nate McMillan was fined $25,000 for these comments when asked about the national media picking the Knicks to win the series. pic.twitter.com/nKOKEmsIsA
— Chris Kirschner (@ChrisKirschner) May 20, 2021
This isn’t really saying there’s biased involved or anything, more that the league has a vested interest in teams in gigantic markets making the playoffs, which it should! He didn’t really indicate that games were officiated any differently, nor did he say that thumbs were on scales in any way, shape, or form. McMillan just said that the league is happy when the Knicks are good, which is a line that has been trotted out whenever they have been bad.