Malcolm Brogdon expected to get a warm welcome Friday night in his return to his hometown of Atlanta. But some comments he made earlier that day resulted in a far chillier reception than he expected at State Farm Arena.
Prior to Game 3 of the Boston Celtics' first-round series against the Hawks, Brogdon admitted he didn't follow Atlanta's NBA team growing up and suggested the Hawks weren't really a big draw in his home city.
"Historically these fans haven't been the most dedicated," Brogdon said.
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Brogdon's comments made their way to Hawks fans, who showered the veteran guard with boos throughout Friday's game, a 130-22 Hawks win. Brogdon didn't enjoy hearing those boos and offered a clarification of sorts Saturday.
"I thought it was misconstrued. I think it was taken out of context," Brogdon told The Athletic's Jared Weiss of his initial comments. "This is a city I adore with my whole heart. I live here during the offseason. I’m from here, born and raised. I think there’s no other city as special as Atlanta in the world and there’s no other city I choose to live in. It has the most special place in my heart."
Brogdon isn't immune to being booed at visiting arenas, but said it "hurts" to hear boos in the city where he grew up.
"It’s definitely fun when fans go at you and boo you and taunt you and talk a little mess. But not in your city. That’s the one exception," Brogdon said. "Atlanta, this is the one place where I’m like, ‘No.’ This is my home, these are my people, I know this city. I embrace this city and this city’s embraced me and raised me and loved me. This is where I want it to be all good."
It's obvious why Brogdon's comments rankled Hawks fans, but he's not necessarily wrong: Atlanta sports fans traditionally have supported the NFL's Falcons and MLB's Braves over the Hawks, with college football arguably taking precedent over all three.
While Brogdon wouldn't go so far as to put Atlanta ahead of Boston as a sports town, he gave Hawks fans props for improving their support in recent years.
"The TD Garden is incredible, the fans are incredible every single night and it’s hard to live up to that expectation for other arenas in really any other city," Brogdon said. "But Atlanta’s taken strides, they have a good team, they’re making changes within that organization and taking steps. So it’s something to get behind here.
"Atlanta is now really the new Mecca for basketball. We have all the best young talent. The basketball culture here has grown immensely and it’s something I’m extremely proud of."
Whether Brogdon's kind words result in him receiving a better reception in Sunday's Game 4 remains to be seen, but Boston's focus will be on getting back in the win column to take a commanding 3-1 series lead.
NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Game 4 begins Sunday at 6 p.m. ET with "Celtics Pregame Live" ahead of tip-off at 7 p.m.