The NBA just went seven years without the New York Knicks in the playoffs.
That drought will end Sunday, when the Knicks face the Atlanta Hawks in the first round.
Hawks coach Nate McMillan, via Sarah K. Spencer The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
“I’ve gone as far as saying the league wants this, they need this. … 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 fanbase. 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.”
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, it was announced today by Byron Spruell, President, League Operations.
McMillan made his remarks to the media on May 19.
It is better for the NBA when bigger markets do well. It’s silly to pretend otherwise. Bigger-market teams have more fans, higher TV ratings and higher ticket prices.
However, the NBA putting its finger on the scale would be detrimental to the entire operation. The league can hope bigger markets advance to the postseason. But actually scheming to make it happen would violate the perception of fairness necessary for the league to function.
For what it’s worth, I didn’t infer McMillan suggesting anything nefarious like that. He just stated the obvious about revenue incentives.
Don’t get any ideas about favoritism from the league, though.