Atlanta Hawks superstar guard Trae Young established a new identity during the first round of the NBA Playoffs. Playing in the postseason for the first time in his career, Young enjoyed shushing New York Knicks fans at Madison Square Garden and taking on the identity of becoming the bad guy.
“I don’t know if I’m embracing the villain role," Young said this week. "I’m just having fun." Young has never been the type of player to come off as cocky on the floor, but the NBA saw a new side of him as he dominated the Knicks.
While he didn't enter the postseason with the idea of becoming the villain type, the hostile crowd in New York City inspired the guard as he wanted to have just as much fun as Knicks fans were having in the stands.
Now that the Hawks-Knicks series is in the bag, Young enters a new challenge. Playing the top-seeded Philadelphia 76ers in the first round, Young will now play in front of a sold-out crowd at the Wells Fargo Center in Philly.
“I don’t know [what to expect]," Young said on Friday. "I’m sure it’s not going to be a welcoming one. Obviously, they’re going to be cheering for their team and trying to do whatever they can to help their team win, and that’s what a fan base is supposed to do. It’s going to be a fun environment, and I look forward to meeting some Philly fans, getting out there and enjoying it, and having a fun series.”
The road won't get any easier for Young. While MSG is certainly a tough environment to show up and show out in, the crowd at the Wells Fargo Center has helped the Sixers maintain the best home record over the last two seasons.
Following a practice session Friday, 76ers veteran center Dwight Howard had a message to the young All-Star as he anticipates his first playoff game in Philly.
“He don’t want no smoke with these ones," Howard said. "Not no Philly fans! We for real about our team over here. We for real." While Howard made his comments in a joking manner, his message paints the right picture for Young. It will be a tough two games to start the series, and it should be another fun one for the NBA's new villain.