Atlanta Hawks star point guard Trae Young was public enemy No. 1 in New York when the Hawks and Knicks met in the first round of the playoffs. He needed just one clever tweet to cement his status as a Knicks villain after the NBA announced the two teams would play on Christmas Day at Madison Square Garden.
The NBA released announced multiple Christmas Day games that are sure to attract interest. Young’s return to The Mecca should be as fun as any of the other contests.
Trae Young played into the villain role during Hawks-Knicks
Trae Young has never been afraid of the big stage. In fact, he embraces it. So when tens of thousands of New Yorkers filled Madison Square Garden for the first-round series between the Hawks and Knicks, Young was ready to take center stage.
A raucous New York crowd greeted Young and the Hawks with plenty of boos through the first two games. Ice Trae never blinked. He fed off the energy in MSG and staked the Hawks to an early series lead with a win in Game 1 by hitting a game-winning shot in the final seconds.
The Knicks would win Game 2, but the Hawks took both games in Atlanta. Young promptly hung 36 points on the Knicks to close out the series in Game 5. The former Oklahoma standout capped the series victory in style, hitting a deep three in the final minutes and bowing for the fans at the Garden.
The fans weren’t the only ones targeting Young, though he was at the center of a forgettable incident in which a Knicks fan spit in his direction. Young also mixed it up with the likes of Julius Randle and Reggie Bullock. He never once showed signs of being intimidated.
Young and the Knicks provided basketball fans with great theater. The budding rivalry will once again take center stage for NBA Christmas Day.
Young reacted to the Knicks-Hawks playoff rematch scheduled as part of NBA Christmas Day
Trae Young stars as “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, Live at Madison Square Garden.” That has a nice ring to it, right? Young sure thinks so.
The 22-year-old had the perfect response after the NBA announced its full schedule of games for Christmas Day, tweeting out a GIF of the Grinch with several accompanying emojis.
One might say Young plans to fill Knicks fans’ stockings with coal and spoil the festivities at Madison Square Garden. However, the Hawks star isn’t the only one who’ll be looking to dampen the Christmas spirit.
Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving will attempt to upend LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook as the Brooklyn Nets head to Los Angeles to play the Lakers. Meanwhile, Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors head to the desert to take on Chris Paul and the Phoenix Suns.
The NBA Christmas Day schedule is loaded. But Young’s budding villain status in New York makes Knicks-Hawks must-see TV.
Can Young and the Hawks take the next step?
The Hawks exceeded expectations by making it all the way to the Eastern Conference finals. What do Young and Co. have in store for the 2021-22 season?
Atlanta made an aggressive play to re-sign restricted free agent John Collins. That wasn’t even the biggest internal move the Hawks made, either, as they inked Young to a five-year extension that can max out at $207 million.
Much of last season’s roster remains intact. One notable: Atlanta should get a full season from a healthy De’Andre Hunter, who (despite injury issues) looks like another terrific asset alongside Young, Collins, and Kevin Huerter.
The Hawks should be a fun team to watch all season. But all eyes will assuredly be on Young as he leads Atlanta into Madison Square Garden for a Christmas Day showdown with the Knicks.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.