Williams Brings Unique Background to New Orleans
By: Jim Eichenhofer,
June 7, 2010

Like virtually any NBA assistant coach without previous head-coaching experience in the league, Monty Williams is not a household name among casual basketball fans. Over his nine-year playing career, the 6-foot-8, 225-pound small forward was primarily a reserve, starting in about one-fourth of his 456 games. He suited up for five different NBA teams, never spending more than three seasons in any one location.

Still, for a pro who was perhaps best described as a role player, its startling to list the names Williams has been associated with over the 16 years since the Notre Dame product was selected by New York as a 1994 first-round draft pick. Its a rundown that reads like a veritable Whos Who in the professional coaching ranks.

In New York alone, Williams head coaches included Don Nelson and Pat Riley, who rank No. 1 and No. 3 all time on the NBAs all-time wins list. The man ranked fifth on the same list, Larry Brown, was Williams head coach in Philadelphia in 2002-03. During stops in San Antonio, Orlando and Denver, Williams head coaches were Gregg Popovich (four NBA titles), Doc Rivers (one NBA title, currently seeking a second) and Mike DAntoni (creator of Phoenixs Seven Seconds or Less fast-break attack).

As an assistant coach in San Antonio and Portland, Williams worked under Popovich, as well as Nate McMillan, who oversaw the Trail Blazers recent rise to prominence.

While many articles this week have focused on Williams remarkable list of associations, research reveals numerous other interesting aspects of his background. Well certainly learn much more about Williams when the team holds its introductory press conference in downtown NOLA, but in the meantime, here are a few tidbits about the ninth head coach in Hornets franchise history:

  • At age 38 (Williams birthday is Oct. 8, 1971), he is the youngest head coach in the NBA. Erik Spoelstra (Nov. 1, 1970) of the Miami Heat is 11 months older.

  • Monty is actually a shortened version of his middle name. His full name is Tavares Montgomery Williams Jr.

  • According to his 2003 player bio, Williams was an outstanding high school student, achieving a perfect 4.0 GPA. also noted that he enjoys fishing and loves eating shrimp, pursuits that fit perfectly with becoming a resident of New Orleans and Louisiana. Along the same lines, an Orlando Sentinel story reported that his second love after his family is bass fishing. He spent substantial free time as a kid fishing in rural Virginia and continued the hobby during his college career at Notre Dame, despite often-frigid temperatures in the Hoosier State.

  • Multiple articles describe Williams as the epitome of a family man. In 1995, he married his college sweetheart Ingrid, who was a sociology and anthropology major at Notre Dame. The couple met for the first time during their first week on Notre Dames campus in South Bend, Ind.

    Monty and Ingrid have four children, including three daughters and a son. They are also expecting a fifth child soon. Their son, Elijah, was born in 2007. Prior to the birth of Elijah - when Monty was the lone male in the household - Monty jokingly told Notre Dames official website in 2005 that some days, I dont feel like a man with all this potpourri and hair shampoo around the place. But it has helped smooth out my hard edges with all these delightful girls in the house. Its been perfect for me.

  • Monty and wife Ingrid have led Bible study sessions for adults. Monty authored a spiritual book titled Look Again 52. He also has frequently been quoted in interviews referencing his spirituality and religious emphasis.

  • In 2005, Williams was voted by a Notre Dame panel as one of the top 25 players in the 100-year history of the Fighting Irish mens basketball program. Williams had a very eventful career at Notre Dame: He sat out two seasons (1990-91 and 1991-92) after being diagnosed with a heart condition in 1990. After receiving a differing medical opinion following additional testing, he resumed his career at Notre Dame in 1992-93 and 1993-94. He still had one year of college eligibility remaining in the summer of 1994, but having already graduated, he elected to enter the NBA draft. He said in a mid-1990s Sports Illustrated article that doctors have told him he now has no traces of the heart condition.

  • Williams graduated from Notre Dame with a degree in communication and theater. According to his bio, he served as an intern during college for the syndicated weekly highlights show The George Michael Sports Machine.

  • According to a Sports Illustrated article, while in college at Notre Dame, Williams acquired a tattoo of a pit bull on his left chest. SI reported that Williams explained that the tattoo has no special meaning, but SI wondered if the ink may be a reference to Williams managing to overcome his heart-defect diagnosis.

  • He has at least two things in common with Chris Paul: an affinity for the number 3, and being a member of a USA Basketball squad that won a championship in international competition. Williams wore uniform No. 3 throughout the majority of his NBA career, except in New York (due to teammate John Starks wearing 3) and Philadelphia (Allen Iverson wore 3). In 1993, Williams played on the USA Basketball under-22 national team that won the FIBA world championship in Spain.

  • Williams has received ringing endorsements from many coaches around the NBA regarding his potential as a head coach in the league. Here is a sample of a few recent quotes:

    Hes ready to go. Somebody is gonna be fortunate if they figure it out that they don't need the big names all the time. They need a coach. And thats what he is, a coach." - San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich to The Oregonian

    Monty is a future star head coach. Hes the total package. He understands the NBA. He understands players. Hes a great offensive and defensive mind. Just look at the coaches hes been around." - Portland assistant coach Bill Bayno in the New York Daily News

    I told him that there was no doubt in my mind that he would be a head coach some day. I really felt strongly about that. - Minnesota president of basketball operations David Kahn, who interviewed Williams for the Timberwolves head-coaching job in the 2009 offseason. Kahns quote appeared in The Oregonian.

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