“Everything you want is on the other side of hard.”
Phoenix Suns Head Coach Monty Williams has been preaching this mantra to his team since his introductory press conference, but now it’s going well beyond the hardwood.
“This is our hard, globally,” Williams said. “We will get through this, but we have to do it together.”
Throughout his time in the NBA, Williams has been known for the repetition of his unique phrases, but they’ve always been more than just sayings, and instead, are teaching points to be applied on the court, in the locker room and throughout life.
And right now, it’s all about life.
Williams has stayed in contact with his players throughout this time of uncertainty, but to him, basketball is a secondary thought in these conversations.
“Basketball is important to us, but I’m mindful that our guys have family members that could have been affected by this,” Williams said. “I lost a niece last week who had an underlying condition. We think the coronavirus was the culprit in taking it over the edge. She was pregnant. When I started to process that and think about what my in-laws were going through, I started thinking, our players are in the same situation. Privately, they could be going through something like that.”
Williams’ message remains positive, as it always does, despite the adversity he has overcome in his life and the obstacles he’s been left to battle with. He’s taking the lessons that he has learned through the challenges he’s faced to teach to his children with all that is going on in the world.
“I don’t want to diminish how they feel,” Williams said. “Before we all as a family went through the situation with their mom and my first wife, I probably wouldn’t have been as aware to listen to my kids. Now, I want to listen to their fears and listen to what they’re going through…I have to be real with my kids. Life is precious. They know that. Yet, I have to remind them that they’re blessed beyond what most people on the face of the Earth could imagine.”
Just as Williams is assisting his children during these difficult times in this country and around the world, Williams feels a similar obligation to his players.
“I’ve tried to just check on them and let them know that I love them and care about them,” Williams. “Basketball just hasn’t come up at all. Jevon Carter texted me yesterday saying he was going crazy because he couldn’t hoop. So, I called him and we talked for a while. I just reminded him and myself that we’ve always said as a team that this is a ‘get to’ and not a ‘got to.”
Williams has always preached this phrase, reiterating the privilege of being in the NBA and how it should be looked at more of an honor than something deserved. In a time without basketball and without sports, it hits home a little harder.
Every Tuesday, the Suns staff hold a conference call led by Williams and as much as they want to turn all their focus to basketball, they understand that’s just not part of the bigger picture at the moment.
“We talk about touching our guys in a personal way, knowing that we all want to play basketball and coach basketball, but our guys are dealing with stuff and we want to make sure we are sensitive to that,” Williams said.
Williams is now looking to share these messages he has relayed to his children, his staff and his players with the greater public. Someone who has consistently joked about the majority of social media networks has now officially joined Instagram in hopes to share his inspiring word with those struggling throughout the world.
“The one way I could help give at all was to be an encouragement to people if I could,” Williams. “So, I decided to get one of those pages and post some of the things that are important to me or things that have inspired me or given me some hope.”
As head coach, brand ambassador and Valley neighbor, Williams’ focus is on the community around him as we strive to reach the other side of hard.
“We are missing out on basketball, but we have each other,” Williams said. “We can text and call and pray and be there for one another and that is so important right now. We have not been defeated. Some of us have lost people, but we are not defeated. We are not out. We will get through this.”