Hawks interim coach Nate McMillan has been fined $25,000 by the NBA for “detrimental public comments asserting bias by the NBA relating to the 2020-21 Playoffs,” the league announced Thursday.
On Wednesday, McMillan was asked about if he thought his players were aware that a lot of national media members were picking the Knicks to win the series (a panel of 16 experts at ESPN recently made predictions, and only two picked the Hawks to win). McMillan said he had discussed that with the team, and added that the Knicks are a franchise the league wants to see in the playoffs, which he was using as a motivating factor for the team.
McMillan addressed the fine Friday, saying his comments were taken out of context: “My intentions were never to suggest any type of bias as it relates to the league and our upcoming playoff series.”
Here were his original comments:
“I’ve gone as far as saying the league wants this, they need this,” McMillan said. “... New York, you know, this is a big market,” McMillan said. “It’s 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. They want to see New York in the playoffs. They want to see the Lakers in the playoffs. Teams like that, the Boston Celtics, they want to see these teams in the playoffs, and I put New York in that category, that the league wants to see it, everybody wants to see this.
“Even to the fact that, our game was moved to Sunday. They want to see this. So yes, we have talked about that. We have talked about the advantages of this situation and some things that we’re going to have to face going into the game with kind of everyone picking New York to win. And a lot of folks wanting to see New York in the playoffs.
“So it’s a battle, it’s a challenge, that just being New York, all of that comes with playing in New York. And they’ve had a really good season. So I think the NBA is excited about them being back in the playoffs.”