Basketball is not just a five-versus-five test of skill on a hardwood floor. The scoreboard may determine the winners and losers each night, but to many basketball is more than just about getting the ball through the basket.
It is a game reliant on relationships between an entire organization, from the owners and the players to the coaching staff and the ball boys.
Everyone is working together towards a common goal: building and maintaining a successful team. It is the internal connections between all of those involved that make the dreams of success a reality.
Monty Williams experienced many highs and lows during his five year tenure as the Head Coach of the Hornets and the Pelicans. As a rookie head coach he led the way for Chris Paul’s final playoff run in New Orleans before the star guard was shipped to Los Angeles.
He coached a team the next season that was led in scoring by Marco Belinelli and Jarrett Jack, which (somehow) won 21 games, and secured the fourth best lottery odds for the 2012 NBA Draft. He represented New Orleans as they won that Draft Lottery, and spent the next three years coaching, developing, and befriending the prize: Anthony Davis.
Mar 9, 2015; Milwaukee, WI, USA; New Orleans Pelicans head coach Monty Williams reacts during the third quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
His post-Paul experience was consistently marred by injury, but the team was still ready to make its playoff run in the 2014-15 season.
After defeating the Spurs on the final night of the regular season, a team that nobody believed in for 82 games, brought together by their head coach, proved them all wrong: the Pelicans had made the playoffs.
His coaching prowess had come under fire over his five years in New Orleans, so much so that he did not want his family to come to home games. The ’14-15 Pelicans were not an elite basketball team, but they were a family in every sense of the word.
Monty’s wife Ingrid, who served as a lynchpin in the New Orleans basketball family, but more importantly in the Williams family, was tragically killed in a car accident on Wednesday night.
Monty, who now works as an assistant for the Oklahoma City Thunder, may no longer be employed by the Pelicans, but the impression left by he and his wife on the organization and the current team will not be forgotten any time soon.
Ryan Anderson, who has been dealing with a personal tragedy of his own, leaned on the support of Ingrid when he needed it most. Her support meant a lot to Ryan, as I am sure it did to many others she met through Monty’s coaching:
There are so many different ways to appreciate basketball thanks to consistent evolutions in technology and a wealth of knowledgeable media sources both young and old. The game itself has changed as well, as the one-on-one isolation basketball of the ’90’s seems like medieval times when juxtaposed to pace-and-space landscape of today.
What has not changed is the importance of relationships. Winning a championship is the ultimate goal, but only one team can win per year, and the careers of professional athletes only last so long. The tight-knit relationships formed throughout the journey are what will persist once the shoes are finally hung up.
All who connected with Ingrid Williams have been robbed of an opportunity to see that relationship through.
On behalf of myself, our editor Barry Hirstius, and the rest of our entire staff here at the Big Easy Believer, we extend our sincerest condolences to Monty Williams and the Williams Family……