NBA fines Hawks coach Nate McMillan for saying league wants Knicks in playoffs

·2 min read

It may seem obvious. And a harmless motivational tactic.

But any hint at league collusion is gonna get you fined. Nate McMillan learned that lesson to the tune of five figures on Thursday. The NBA fined the Atlanta Hawks coach $25,000 after he shared with reporters that he told his team that the NBA wants and needs the New York Knicks in the playoffs.

The message was an apparent rallying cry to get his Hawks energized for their first-round matchup with the Knicks that starts Sunday. 

'They need this'

"I’ve gone as far as saying the league wants this, they need this," McMillan said Wednesday, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. ... "New York, you know, this is a big market. 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. ... I think the NBA is excited about them being back in the playoffs.”

Again, that seems an obvious truth. But the NBA tends to frown on any hint at league-endorsed shenanigans that favor one team over others. So Thursday's fine was inevitable. 

Here's the league's official statement on the fine:

"Atlanta 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," the league statement reads. 

Atlanta Hawks head coach Nate McMillan in action during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers, Thursday, May 6, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Nate McMillan's wallet is $25,000 lighter as of Thursday. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

To be fair, McMillan didn't single out the Knicks. He also opined that the NBA is happy to see any of its big-market and marquee franchises in the postseason. 

"They want to see the Lakers in the playoffs," McMillan continued. "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."

That also seems obvious. But maybe next time McMillan will keep his comments confined to the locker room.

More from Yahoo Sports:

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.
Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting