Monty Williams: From the Heart
By: Calder Hynes, Hornets.com
August 15, 2011
At the 67th event of the “100 Events in 100 Days” initiative, and the fifth industry-specific gathering of the summer at the New Orleans Arena, Monty Williams addressed a group of roughly 50 medical professionals on the benefits and advantages of becoming a season ticket holder. Williams has had a long relationship with health care, a field that is close to his heart.
Actually, Williams’ heart is the reason he has such a connection and respect for those in the business.
“I look at my job as a blessing because I am a bit of a medical miracle,” Williams said. “I played my freshman year (in college at Notre Dame) and was going to go pro after my sophomore year. I came back to school for my second year in great shape, and had a routine physical. When they listened to my heart, they heard what they explained to me at the time was called a ‘gallop’ in my heartbeat. Two days later, the doctors called back and said ‘Mont, look, we hate to tell you this, but you have a fatal heart condition and you’re never going to be able to play basketball again.’ My career was over. Two days later, I had a press conference, and that was it. I became a student, just like that.”
Williams could have accepted the doctors’ prognosis, moved on as a student and ended his relationship with basketball, but the record books will show he went on to enjoy a successful nine-year playing career, followed by six years as an assistant coach prior to becoming the NBA’s youngest head coach last June.
On the trying times between learning that his career – and life – were in jeopardy and his eventual successes, Williams reflects, “I wanted to play so bad, so I just prayed, and prayed, and prayed to get better. Two years later, I went to the National Institute of Health, and they deemed my heart in the lowest of the low-risk category. There was nothing wrong with my heart anymore.”
Anyone who knows Williams knows he is not one to shy away from a challenge or go down without a fight. He presided over the franchise’s largest comeback in history this season (23 points, Dec. 15 against Sacramento), orchestrated a comeback victory from seven points down with 1:13 to play against the eventual world-champion Dallas Mavericks, and was undaunted facing the two-time defending champion Lakers this postseason when his squad boldly knotted the series at two games apiece in dramatic late-game fashion.
Williams will humbly deflect the credit for these accomplishments to his staff and players, but he also points to one other important ingredient that these three performances had: they were all played in front of the home crowd.
“When this place is packed, it’s a different feeling. It was one of those nights where everything went right for us, and a lot of that was because of the impact you all had on the game. My job is easier when this place is crowded and I have 17,000-plus fans to help me out,” Monty added, revisiting the scene of Game 4 against Los Angeles in April. “I want you all to be a part of this.”
Some in attendance took the appeal to heart, as more sales were made toward the ever-approaching goal of 10,000 season tickets, bringing the number to 8,758.
To close, Williams shared what drives his motivation to succeed, a success he hopes Southern Louisianans can share with him and his team.
"To this day, a lot of people want me to attend seminars and run tests on me because they can’t figure out why my heart changed. When I say I look at my job as a blessing, I mean that. I know I’m not supposed to be here, and I know that everything that has been given to me is a blessing. That’s why I work so hard.”
blog comments powered by Disqus