MILWAUKEE – Overcoming personal tragedy and career setbacks, Phoenix Suns manager Monty Williams is on the verge of fulfilling his lifelong dream by becoming an NBA champion.
The 49-year-old American led the Suns into a 2-0 lead over Milwaukee in the NBA’s top seven finals by building a team culture that is partly “silly words” and partly tough conversations about daily work that builds the foundation for success .
“We are just grateful to be in this position and that the guys have adopted some of the things we have tried to implement,” Williams said. “Acceptance and commitment have been there since day one.”
Williams relies on a year of hard work and lessons learned to avoid talking too much these days.
“The last thing I want to do is crowd anyone’s mind,” Williams said. “I tell our kids to go to the circle. I don’t want them to think about their shots or anything that can be considered a fight.
“When you put the work the way these guys did… I don’t want to get inside his head. We have a saying, “repetition removes doubt”. If you get your job, you can trust your job. “
This is how Williams, who spent nine seasons as an NBA forward, has developed since he was an internship coach for the 2005 NBA champion of the San Antonio Spurs.
He spent five years as an assistant coach in Portland before taking up the post of head coach in New Orleans, where he first met star guard Chris Paul, now in his first NBA Finals with the Suns at the age of 36. .
“We were both incredibly stubborn and competitive and I was probably more ‘my way or on the freeway,'” said Williams. “Mine was probably a lot of insecurity, trying to show what I knew and prove it as opposed to just coaching.
“Probably those ruffled feathers, not just hers, but a number of players told me it was.
“After having some life experiences and listening to people about their evaluations of you, especially the people you respect, you have no choice but to change. I learned that I’d rather be effective in the right place. “
Williams was fired in 2010 and became an assistant coach in Oklahoma City, where his wife, Ingrid, was killed in a car accident in 2016, leaving him alone to drive their five children.
Williams worked as an assistant coach for the 2016 Rio Olympic gold medal team of the United States. After a two-year absence from the game, he returned in 2018 as a Philadelphia assistant before signing with the Suns in May 2019.
“I always thought that if you were trying to have an atmosphere, an environment, where everything was at a high level, you didn’t have to change once you got to where you wanted to be,” he said.
“We wanted the environment to be a place where the kids felt like they were getting better every day. If we had ever been able to win big, it would have been no different. “
‘I want it bad’
Williams uttered phrases like “Well Done, Well Spoken Jokes” and “Preparation Meets Opportunity” to focus the players’ thoughts on results and improvement day after day.
“We talk a lot as coaches,” Williams said. “At the same time we want our kids to search, play and become people of action. Most of our kids adopted him and he served us well. “
Emotions overflowed for Williams at a Los Angeles locker room moment earlier this month after the Suns clinched a spot in the NBA Finals.
“Emotions come from the work behind it, the decisions you make in your life to get to this point, and the things people do to help you get to this point,” Williams said.
“I think it’s just my wish. I want it badly. I know I have been very blessed to be in this position. And I never want to lose sight of it. Sometimes it’s overwhelming when I think about how lucky I’ve been. “
As poised as he looks aside, Williams tells his children the reality behind the illusion.
“I’m just trying to share with them as a man that it’s okay to be nervous and it’s okay to be scared,” he said.
“I have a reputation for looking calm on the sidelines, but if you check my armpits you would think otherwise.”
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