Monty Williams: From the Heart
By: Calder Hynes,
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 youre 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 NBAs 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 franchises 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, its 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 cant figure out why my heart changed. When I say I look at my job as a blessing, I mean that. I know Im not supposed to be here, and I know that everything that has been given to me is a blessing. Thats why I work so hard.


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