Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams is easily one of the most respected men in all the NBA, especially with the grace that he’s had while handling the unspeakable tragedy and loss in his life. No one should be even a tad bit ashamed of rooting for Williams to win the NBA Finals last summer after all he and his family have had to endure in past years.
To see the classy and thoughtful manner in which Williams also handled himself this past weekend upon locking up one of the spots to coach in the NBA All-Star Game wasn’t surprising at all, considering his humble nature.
When our culture is seemingly self-absorbed in every way, Williams personifies the meaning of selflessness and sacrifice. In leading the Suns to a jaw-dropping 41-9 record, Williams clinched the individual honor of getting to coach in the NBA All-Star Game. That’s a place where Williams never made it as a player, so the accomplishment had to feel even sweeter.
Still, Williams found a way to make the award about his team’s accomplishments instead of himself individually.
Suns coach Monty Williams will savor his All-Star spot to honor his team’s dedication
Once a team clinches its conference’s best record, that coach is named the leader of one of the two squads competing in the NBA All-Star Game. This year’s All-Star Game is Feb. 20 at Cleveland’s Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. LeBron James and Kevin Durant are the captains, and they will soon pick their rosters early next week.
Because the Phoenix Suns have been so dominant throughout this season, Monty Williams has already locked up one of the coaching spots. He will guide Team LeBron at the NBA All-Star Game.
Rather than downplay the achievement, Williams vowed to be thankful about it as a way to honor the work and sacrifice his team has put forth this season. Following Saturday night’s win to lock up the spot, Williams thanked his players and coaches in a touching locker room tribute.
“I don’t take it for granted because I know what it’s like in this league because I’ve been around it a long time,” Williams said from the middle of the locker room while surrounded by players. “When you have a good group, you relish it. We have a good group and a special opportunity. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you guys for being who you are.”
As it turns out, Williams was just getting started with his message.
“I can sit here and say, ‘Awwww, (coaching in the NBA All-Star Game) is no big deal,’ ^” Williams told the players. “But, you know what? That would diminish what you guys do every day. That would diminish the blessings that God gives us every day. Congratulations!”
Williams has every reason to be proud of how his Phoenix Suns have dominated foes
The Phoenix Suns won the West last season, came within two victories of winning the NBA championship, and followed it up with the NBA’s best record. Not that anyone would know, considering how the Suns have remarkably flown well below the national radar. For whatever reason, the basketball world has been more fascinated by the Ben Simmons holdout, Russell Westbrook’s benching and shots off the top of the backboard, and Kyrie Irving’s general quirkiness.
Phoenix haș avoided the NBA Finals “hangover” that has seemingly zapped the life out of the Milwaukee Bucks most of the season. All the Suns have done is win 41 of their first 50 games, dominate games with ice-cold efficiency in fourth quarters, and play like a team on a mission. They already have winning streaks of 18 and 11 games, the final one current following a beatdown of the dysfunctional Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday night.
Monty Williams will represent the overlooked Phoenix Suns at the NBA All-Star Game
Both Chris Paul and Devin Booker should have been starters for the NBA All-Star Game, but the fans, players, and media collectively whiffed on that vote. Paul should also be at the forefront of the MVP race — yes, even ahead of do-everything big men Nikola Jokić, Joel Embiid, and Giannis Antetokounmpo and the DeMar DeRozan comeback story.
Paul has been the ultimate difference-maker for a Suns franchise that struggled to get things right for more than a decade. With Paul, they won the West last season, and they just might do it again this season.
“I know we talk a lot about — and rightly so — what LeBron (James) is doing in his 19th year, but we don’t talk a lot about what Chris Paul is doing at 36 years old, in his 17th year, and at 6-foot tall on a good day,” TNT analyst Dwyane Wade said on Tuesday night. “When you think about Chris Paul, the first thing you think about is a leader. Obviously, Devin Booker is the young, up-and-coming star. Chris came there and said, ‘Listen, I’m going to get you to that next level.’ It’s also what he’s done for everybody around him — JaVale McGee and from a confidence standpoint with (Bismack) Biyombo. We don’t give his flowers enough. At 36 years old, he’s still one of the 15 best players in our game, and it’s incredible.”
While Paul and Booker were slighted, Monty Williams will represent Phoenix as head coach at the NBA All-Star Game. Nobody deserves that honor more than Williams, whose Suns are 14-1 since Jan. 1 and are on a jaw-dropping 68-win pace.
It’s also worth noting — in light of the problems with diversity among the coaching ranks in the NFL — that Williams will be the 12th African-American head coach of an NBA All-Star Game in league history.
Of course, the head coach job at the NBA All-Star Game will have about as much responsibility as the first-based coach in a Major League Baseball Game. It’s a mostly ceremonial role where Williams might jot down the rotations and possibly draw up a couple of plays down the stretch.
But in no way will Williams frown upon this honor or discount the importance of the opportunity. As Williams told his team last week, he said that doing anything of the sort would be disrespectful of a Phoenix team that has poured everything into this season. Instead, Williams chooses to be thankful and appreciative of those around him.
“It’s a huge blessing to be in this position where you can be the caretaker of an organization and represent the city, your team, your family,” Williams said in his news conference following Phoenix’s win on Saturday night. “I’m mindful of all the sacrifices that people make so I can be in this position. It’s a team effort for sure.”
All statistics are courtesy of ESPN.com.