Hawks' Trae Young Says Gesture to Knicks Fans in 2021 NBA Playoffs Was Scripted

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 13, 2022

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 02:  Trae Young (11) of the Atlanta Hawks reacts after scoring a three-point shot against the New York Knicks in the fourth quarter of Game Five of the Eastern Conference first round series at Madison Square Garden on June 02, 2021 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Wendell Cruz-Pool/Getty Images)
Wendell Cruz-Pool/Getty Images

Trae Young's famous bow to the Madison Square Garden crowd during the 2021 playoffs was anything but spontaneous.

"Heading into it, I knew what I was going to do," the Atlanta Hawks star said to ESPN's Tim MacMahon. "If I had a moment to do that, I was going to take advantage of it. I knew ahead of time what I was going to do.

"It's fun, it's basketball, it's entertainment."

The Hawks were less than a minute away from dispatching the New York Knicks from the postseason when Young drilled a deep three-pointer. He then bowed in the middle the court.

His postgame comments may have surpassed the gesture itself.

"I know where we are," he told reporters. "I know it's a bunch of shows around this city. And I know what they do when the show is over."

That Young had already decided beforehand to bow to the crowd doesn't detract from the moment. If anything, it might inflame Knicks fans even further since the 2020 All-Star was determined to savor a Game 5 victory.

Like Reggie Miller before him, Young has now become persona non grata in the Big Apple, and it's the kind of dynamic that could be beneficial to the NBA as a whole.

With increased player movement, it's becoming more difficult for teams to forge rivalries with one another. That in turn hurts the regular season because games often have little in the way of stakes or bragging rights.

Young, on the other hand, has almost single-handedly added a layer of intrigue to every contest between the Hawks and Knicks. MSG fans were all too happy to let him know how they felt when New York was securing a 101-87 victory on Christmas Day.

Basketball would be a lot more fun if more players were willing to embrace the role of the villain on the court.