Earlier this week, Hawks head coach Nate McMillan had some choice comments regarding the Knicks‘ first playoff appearance in eight years – so much so to the point he was recently fined $25,000 for “asserting bias by the NBA relating to the 2020-21 Playoffs,” the league announced.
McMillan said the NBA “wants” the Knicks in the playoffs, and “there’s going to be a lot of calls that probably won’t go our way,” because of the big-market presence the Knicks have.
Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau begged to differ, and referred back to the Knicks’ second round series against the Miami Heat, where he was an assistant to then-head coach Jeff Van Gundy.
“I think the league is gonna do what they think is best for the league, but… in ’96-97, we had six guys get suspended,” Thibodeau said, referring back to an altercation in Game 5 of that series. “Patrick Ewing took a step off the bench, and it wiped him out. And that was our chance, probably, for a championship. I don’t think the league favors us.”
“I wish that were the case back then so Patrick could’ve played and we could’ve advanced,” Thibodeau told ESPN New York’s The Michael Kay Show on Friday.
In Game 6, the Knicks were without Ewing, Allan Houston, John Starks, Larry Johnson, and Charlie Ward because of their actions the previous game. The Knicks lost Games 6 and 7 to lose the series.
The Heat wound up losing to the Chicago Bulls, in what was their second title in their second three-peat of the 90s.