Hawks coach Nate McMillan says Knicks comments were 'taken out of context'

·2-min read

Some interesting comments about the New York Knicks resulted in a fine for Nate McMillan, but he said he was taken out of context.

The Atlanta Hawks interim coach told ESPN that he did not mean to suggest the league was biased while talking about his team's upcoming first-round series in the NBA playoffs:

"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."

Here's what McMillan said to earn a $25,000 fine from the NBA. You can be the judge of whether or not this could be taken out of context:

"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.”

Whether or not the league wants the Knicks to win, the first-round series figures to be an entertaining one between two up-and-coming teams. Behind Most Improved Player finalist Julius Randle, the Knicks are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2013.

Meanwhile, the Hawks have made an incredible turnaround under McMillan, going from 14-20 when he was promoted to the fifth see in the Eastern Conference.

Game 1 is set to tip off at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday.

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