Atlanta Hawks interim coach Nate McMillan said Friday that his comments about the New York Knicks that led to a $25,000 fine were “taken out of context.”
“We are excited about playoff basketball,” McMillan said Friday. “It’s an exciting time for the NBA. But unfortunately my 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. This type of narrative does not in any way represent me and what I stand for as coach of the Atlanta Hawks.
“I stand by my position in respecting the Knicks as an organization and applaud the work they have done this season. My team understands the challenge ahead, and we most certainly look forward to the tough competition. That was my intention when I had the conversation a few days ago. We’re going to put this behind us.”
McMillan was fined by the league for saying Wednesday that he told his team that the NBA wants the Knicks in the playoffs and that “there’s going to be a lot of calls that probably won’t go our way” during the first-round series, which starts Sunday.
“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. “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.”
On Friday morning, NBA commissioner Adam Silver addressed McMillan’s fine during an appearance on ESPN Radio’s Keyshawn, J-Will and Zubin. “Nate’s a veteran coach, and he knows better,” Silver said. “He’s trying to inspire his team to try and suggest the league would somehow prefer some teams over others, and it’s just not the case. He knows it, and he’s just got a young team and wants to get them going.”
ESPN’s Tim Bontemps contributed to this report.