NBA Q&A: Monty Williams

Courtesy of The Undefeated

Despite the long odds, why are you excited about the Suns being in Orlando?

We’re a young team building a program. It would not help us at all to sit from March until maybe December, January. … To be able to get back into the gym for the last month and to be able to communicate with our guys about social justice along with concepts and things we want to do as a team, it’s been a good process for us.

We have a lot to gain from being in Orlando. It’s going to be a hard deal. But of all the teams there, we have a chance to benefit the most just because we’re such a new program and young team. …

And with everything that everybody’s gone through, from the pandemic to watching police brutality, inequality in our country, to be able to get together and have these conversations in a safe place, I value that as the coach, as a person.

How much did you miss coaching?

I haven’t stopped. I’ve been driving our guys nuts. We send out film stuff. I’ve been in conversations with all of our guys from time to time. I haven’t done all the Zoom chats that I’ve been hearing about from other teams. I don’t want to bore the guys. … But I’ve had a lot of good talks with all of our guys individually, on the phone. It’s been really cool to be in my workout area and look at my phone and one of the players is trying to FaceTime me.

Our conversations have been more than just basketball. I’ve been talking to our guys about the situations in our society, whether it’s police brutality, the coronavirus, all the stuff, and then their personal lives.

Is there anything that your team would like to do in terms of having your voice in Orlando?

There’s so much on the table. I don’t know. I think the league is going to be a part of allowing coaches and players to speak freely. I know the coaches association, we got a few things that we’re trying to do. We have a leadership group that’s heading this diversity and social justice reform led by Lloyd Pierce. Those guys, we get on the phone every Monday and we talk. I think once we get down there, there’s going to be some things, I’m not quite sure what, whether it’s PSAs or group discussions or having people come in and speak. The time will be used wisely so that people can have a place to learn and also express themselves.

When you saw the George Floyd video for the first time, what was your reaction?

When I watched that officer look back into that camera, that was a moment for me. I don’t think I’ve ever felt like that in my life, as it relates to social issues. I heard my grandparents tell me stories about what it was like when they grew up. I know where my family comes from. The Williams plantation in Lenoir County in North Carolina.

But when I watched that officer look back into that camera and the look on his face, I don’t think I’ll ever forget that and how I felt watching him with a nonchalant look as if he was untouchable. That just sticks out to me more than anything.

Why do you think the response from the world and white America is different now?

I think there’s a young generation that’s willing to step up and say, ‘Man, that’s wrong.’ Whereas before, generations may have been a bit more hesitant because they may have worried about their job or their place in society, whatever the case may be.

It’s beautiful to watch. All ethnicities, men and women, standing together and willing to say this is messed up. I don’t know if we had that when I was growing up. We always had a movement, whether it be the NAACP or it was a section. You know what I’m saying? I don’t think it was this broad across our nation.

What have you discussed with your five kids in terms of social injustice, police brutality, the Black Live Matters movement, etc.?

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