The pain and disappointment were evident in Monty Williams’ voice as he answered the final question of his postgame press conference late Tuesday night.
Having just lost the NBA Finals and wearing a hat that said “born again,” the Phoenix Suns head coach was asked by ESPN’s Rachel Nichols whether it will take time for him to process the journey he’s been on with his team.
Williams said he thought it would “take a minute.” Then all of the emotions he was feeling rose to the surface.
“I just don’t take it for granted,” he continued. “It’s hard to get here. I wanted it so bad, you know? It’s hard to process right now. It’s hard, you know? That’s all.”
Minutes later, he was in the Milwaukee Bucks’ locker room congratulating them on their first NBA title since 1971.
Monty Williams had an emotional press conference and then congratulated the Bucks in their locker room pic.twitter.com/SIWhOowcfm
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 21, 2021
“I just wanted to come and congratulate you guys,” Williams told them. “You guys deserve it and I’m thankful for the experience. You guys made me a better coach, made us a better team. Congratulations.”
His kind gesture drew high praise on social media.
I’ve never seen this in 24 years covering the league. Monty Williams is as classy as they come. https://t.co/onxYtyF9je
— Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) July 21, 2021
Sportsmanship STILL EXISTS!!
Love Monty Williams. Gets it!!
Class move. https://t.co/WWqfIteB53
— Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) July 21, 2021
Wow. Wow. Wow. This is another example of why Monty Williams is one of the most special humans the pro sports world has ever seen. Humble. Classy. Passionate. Fierce. Kind. An amazing leader. He’ll get one in PHX and I can’t wait to witness it. @Suns https://t.co/dCEatR1iru
— Sage Steele (@sagesteele) July 21, 2021
In his answer to the first question at the press conference, Williams gave thanks to God for the opportunity to coach in the finals even though the end result was not what he had hoped for.
“It’s a blur for me right now,” Williams said. “I’m just thankful that God allowed me to be in this position, to be a head coach in the finals. It hurts badly, but I’m also grateful that we had this chance to play for a championship. I’m just grateful for that part.”
That Williams would think to congratulate his opponent after losing four straight finals games is not a surprise to anyone familiar with the way the 49-year-old has conducted himself throughout his career.
In an appearance on SportsCenter following the Suns’ triumph over the Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference Finals, Williams was asked how he balances caring for his players while holding them accountable at the same time. He pointed to his faith in his response and explained how he approaches leading a team.
“I expressed from the time I got the job in Phoenix and to every new player that comes to our program, the essence of my coaching is to serve,” Williams said. “As a believer in Christ, that’s what I’m here for. And I tell them all the time, if I get on you, I’m not calling you out, I’m calling you up.”
Williams came on the Sports Spectrum Podcast in September 2019 and discussed how he continued to trust in God as he mourned.
“[God] is good,” Williams said. “He loves me. You go through a time like that and you tend to lose sight of that because you are hurting, but God is good.”
Once again, Williams responded to adversity by allowing God’s love to shine through him and putting his faith into action.
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