Williams 'Overwhelmed' By USA Selection
New Orleans Pelicans head coach Monty Williams recently was driving in his truck with two of his five children when he received an unexpected phone call from Jerry Colangelo, the chairman of USA Basketball.
Williams put the call on speakerphone, not realizing that he and his kids were about to listen to Colangelo ask if Williams were interested in serving as an assistant coach for the USA men’s national team.
“Absolutely,” Williams responded, after first pausing a beat to soak in what the question meant.
“I was a bit dumbfounded that he would ask me,” Williams said Monday afternoon, remembering the call. “But then he just ran down this list of reasons why he wanted me to be on the staff. I was overwhelmed. It was shocking for him to call me and ask me. It was a pretty cool time for my kids to be able to hear that.”
Earlier on Monday afternoon in a national conference call, Colangelo explained some of those reasons behind the decision to add Williams to Mike Krzyzewski’s staff.
“When you look at his background, and the years he served as an assistant coach with very outstanding head coaches,” Colangelo said, “and the players he’s worked with, his reputation, his character, his propensity for teaching defense, we thought he was a perfect candidate. (Also) his age. He just had all of the ingredients we were looking for in adding to our staff. We have high regard for Monty and are looking forward to spending time with him.”
Colangelo noted that Williams’ defensive acumen made him particularly attractive, also part of the reason USA Basketball wanted Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau on the staff. With players like Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James, the Americans have rarely been concerned about generating offense, making defense a major focus.
“Even on an international level, it’s still about rebounding and defense that wins,” Colangelo said. “We’ve proven that we have more than enough people who can score the ball. That’s never been an issue for us. On the defensive end, that’s where you win. I think the selection of the new (assistants), to go along with Jimmy Boeheim (of Syracuse University), gives us a terrific overall perspective on how to defend.”
For his part, Williams is looking forward to the experience of working with the veteran and decorated coaches who will help comprise the USA team’s staff.
“Once you get through the initial shock and awe of the phone call, I started thinking about right away how much I’m going to be able to learn from Coach K, Thibodeau and Coach Boeheim,” Williams said. “This is an opportunity for me to learn a ton. Talking to Coach K a couple days ago, he was talking about what he wanted me to bring to the staff, but my thought process was, ‘Man, I’m going to glean a lot from being around this situation.’
“I feel so blessed and thankful that God has given me another opportunity to be a part of something that’s bigger than me and most of the things I’ve done in sports. I’m really overwhelmed by the whole deal.”