Checking in with the President: Part 2
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
August 10, 2011
It’s time to check in again with New Orleans Hornets President Hugh Weber. Weber is responsible for facilitating all aspects of the franchise, including strategic planning, business development, marketing/branding, and day-to-day business and basketball operations for over 100 employees.
In Part 2, Weber delves into the team’s successful first year under the basketball leadership of general manager Dell Demps and head coach Monty Williams. Demps and Williams were each hired during the summer of 2010.
Hornets.com: Having worked closely with Monty Williams for approximately one year now, what has impressed you the most about the team’s head coach?
Weber: Everything I observed and felt about Monty in the first five minutes of meeting him has been reinforced over the last year. In large part this is because there is not much about Monty that is a mystery. What you see is what you get and he doesn’t put much (any) effort into creating images – you could spend a lifetime looking unsuccessfully for an inconsistency.
What separates Monty is his credibility and integrity; what most don’t appreciate is his supreme intelligence. He often says that he might have to out-work you, but by the time that happens he has already out-smarted you too. Monty embraces obstacles as a fact of life, and does not shun responsibility no matter the situation. It’s a very incredible mix of attributes that have accumulated through his experience and his faith that will make Monty a success at whatever he chooses to do – including preparing a team to win a championship.
Weber: Monty brought a commitment to a system starting with a coaching staff that could teach and make our guys better every day. To integrate new priorities and a new culture to our team is a huge endeavor that goes beyond simple tweaks or measuring your success after a single season. As an organization, we understand that we are building this team for the long haul and there are no short cuts for success. Many coaches have systems and insights that make their teams better, yet the stickiness of those philosophies is not always a given in just 41 games. Monty’s leadership is based on the credibility of his message. He preaches hard work because he has built a life around hard work and he will never ask a guy to do something that he is not willing to do himself, whether it’s humbling himself for the betterment of the team, or having courage when needed. His credibility and consistency in message build a quick foundation for the team to continue to grow.
Hornets.com: Was there anything that surprised you about Williams during Year 1 as the Hornets’ sideline leader?
Weber: All of us have personal complexities that make us who were are. I expected to see some of those nuances from Monty, but he works very hard to keep his life very simple. Through all the adversity this team saw in the last year, as a young man Monty had the wisdom to keep things simple.
Hornets.com: Considering Dell Demps took over as general manager after the 2010 NBA draft, as well as after much of NBA free agency was completed, how impressive was it that he was able to make so many transactions, which resulted in the team starting the regular season a franchise-best 8-0?
Weber: I’ve often said that Dell was an unsung hero from last season. He is a natural collaborator who was able to build trust through an entirely new basketball operations staff, which quickly did the diligent work in trades to give us more cap flexibility while making us better, and working as a rookie general manager with a rookie coach to help a team make it to the playoffs. Like Monty there are not many people that will outwork or out smart Dell, which is how we were able to see the changes we made reap positive returns quickly.
Hornets.com: Demps seems to keeps a relatively low profile. What’s one thing fans might be surprised to know about the team’s GM?
Weber: Dell cares deeply about the team and when I say that I’m not talking just about basketball operations. Dell has married his basketball knowledge, business savvy, street smarts, and fan focus to bring ideas to the table that make us a better business. He is continually bouncing ideas that might improve the fan experience and he has an incredible enthusiasm that makes his ideas infectious. He is always thinking and evaluating how we can be better for the fans, which makes him a very special addition to our team and perfect fit for the community.
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