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How Nate McMillan pulled a Pat Riley move to motivate his team


Pat Riley earned The Godfather nickname for a reason. It's not just the most expensive suits ever seen on NBA sidelines. Pat Riley is gangsta. He started as the coach of the Showtime Lakers, but Riley was always a blue-collar type of guy - his Knicks teams proved that. And in Pat Riley's world, there's no room for the week minded.

One of his mastermind moves happened back in 2006. The Heat got down 2-0 to Dallas in the '06 Finals. They managed to win two in Dallas and then win a crucial Game 5 in Miami. Suddenly they were up 3-2, but the first two losses were still lingering around the locker room. So Riley gave out on order, letting his team know he has full confidence they are the better team.

“We go up 3-2 and then Pat Riley comes in pissed off. ‘We ain’t practicing today, we’re going there tomorrow and you better bring one suit. When you get to the airport tomorrow I’m checkin’. If you ain’t got one suit, your ass ain’t coming on the plane.‘ So we at the airport, he was checking people’s bags and we had to bring one suit.”

Shaquille O'Neal

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Riley was right. (With substantial help from the refs) the Miami Heat won Game 6 and became champions. This year, the Atlanta Hawks are the cinderella story of the year. Midway through the season, we got reports of the locker room calling Trae Young out for being selfish and a poor leader. At that point, most people thought they would be up for a top 4 draft pick. Now they are one of the 4 teams left standing. 

Still, even the Hawks needed convincing before Game 7 against the 76ers. That this result wasn't just a lucky coincidence, an easy side of the bracket and being 100% healthy playing against teams with injury problems. So Nate McMillan pulled his version of the Pat Riley packing move. After winning against the 76ers, the Hawks didn't fly back home to Atlanta. 

Nate McMillan was always considered a very good coach, someone who will raise your team's floor. Solid regular season, feisty playoffs first-round exit. So it's not just the Hawks who are out there proving they are a Playoffs ready team - so is their coach. Throughout the Playoffs, McMillan showed he is ready to adjust on the fly, get his team tactically and mentally ready for the toughest basketball of their lives. And with his move, he showed he has that special something that makes his players ready to run through a wall. 

The Conference Finals is just as the Hawks like it - they are the underdogs with nothing to lose. Watch out, Milwaukee. 

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