Hawks head coach Nate McMillan has been fined $25K by the NBA for “detrimental public comments asserting bias,” the league announced Thursday in a press release.
As Chris Kirschner of The Athletic relays, McMillan was fined for comments he made during his session with reporters on Wednesday. He was asked about national media members picking the Knicks to defeat the Hawks in round one of the playoffs.
“I’ve talked about that to the team a lot,” McMillan said. “I’ve gone as far as saying, ‘The league wants this. They need this.’ New York is a big market. It’s a big market for the league. New York has been out of the playoffs for a number of years. This is a team that our league — they want to see. … I think the NBA is excited about them being back in the playoffs.”
McMillan was essentially just reiterating a widely held belief that the NBA prefers to see teams in large markets with huge fan bases succeed. He went on to liken the Knicks to the Lakers and Celtics.
While McMillan’s comments seem relatively harmless, it’s understandable that the NBA didn’t appreciate the implication that the league might make an effort to push the Knicks past the Hawks — especially when that implication came from Atlanta’s head coach.