With 52 wins last season, good for third in the Eastern Conference, the Philadelphia 76ers enjoyed their best season since 2000-01, when the 56-win Sixers were led by Allen Iverson and lost to the L.A. Lakers in the NBA Finals. The berth in the 2018 playoffs marked Philly’s first after five seasons of missing out, and marked a dramatic jump from a 28-win season in 2016-17.
So, needless to say, they have high hopes for 2018-19. Their strong core is led by youngsters Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, along with veteran J.J. Redick. And in November, the 76ers acquired four-time All-Star Jimmy Butler. Philadelphia has won 10 of its 13 games with Butler, moving up to third in the East standings behind Toronto and Milwaukee.
Sixers head coach Brett Brown knows the time is ripe for his team to contend for a championship, which is why he has also made sure his coaching staff is full of talent. After last season’s big turnaround, the team lost assistant coach Lloyd Pierce, who became the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks. But Brown filled that void by naming Monty Williams as his lead assistant.
Welcome to Philadelphia, Monty Williams!
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) June 8, 2018
Williams was the New Orleans Pelicans head coach for five years, and his team made the playoffs twice. He was fired in 2015 and then joined the Oklahoma City Thunder as associate head coach. But he stepped down from that position after a car accident took the life of his wife, Ingrid, in February 2016. To be closer to extended family for help with his five children, Williams moved to San Antonio.
“This is hard for my family, but this will work out,” Williams said during his eulogy. “And my wife would punch me if I were to sit up here and whine about what’s going on. That doesn’t take away the pain. But it will work out because God causes all things to work out. You just can’t quit. … You can’t give in.”
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” — Romans 8:28
In September 2016, Williams was hired by the San Antonio Spurs to be their vice president of basketball operations. But he decided to return to coaching this past summer when offered the job with Philadelphia. It appears to be a step toward Williams becoming a head coach again.
But Williams will rely on his faith in God to direct where he and his family should go next.
“I had the idea that because I was faith-based, things would work out well for me,” he recently told The Undefeated. “I thought that being a man of faith, that was a byproduct of that. Having been around a little bit, I’ve come to realize that my faith is something I can hang on to in the good and not-so-good times, and it allows me to deal with both the success and the failures and the in-between. It’s not a good-luck charm.”
His faith is certainly what he held onto in the midst of losing his wife and mother of his children. Williams says he’s still dealing with her death.
“Nobody’s strong enough to get through that, not on their own, and I certainly did not,” Williams said. “I had a lot of people praying for me. If not for the grace of God, I probably would have been more frustrated than I was. …
“She was the greatest example of faith that I’ve ever been around because she was my best friend. It was what attracted me to her when I first met her. So to lose her to a senseless car accident was by far the toughest thing I’ve ever had to deal with and am still dealing with. That’s something that I’ll never be able to explain or rationalize. I just have to trust God that He’s going to get us through it all, and He has.”
Despite his successful playing and coaching career in the NBA, Williams knows he needs Christ more everyday.
“There’s a lot of times within the faith, as a Christian, that most people think we walk around like we have it together, and I just got to be straight with you,” Williams said. “The longer you’re walking with the Lord, it’s the exact opposite. It’s like way on the other end. I need the Lord because I don’t have it together. I am broken. I am flawed no matter how I’m viewed.”
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