Summer 2022

Christ-following Monty Williams wins NBA Coach of the Year: 'This is so stinkin' cool'

Not surprisingly, Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams was named the NBA’s Coach of the Year on Monday, and it wasn’t even close. He collected 81 first-place votes from a panel of 100 media members.

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It’s his first NBA Coach of the Year honor, after he finished only 11 points behind New York Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau last year. Williams also won the Coach of the Year honor from the National Basketball Coaches Association, the second consecutive season he’s collected the NBCA award.

Williams led the Suns to an NBA-best 64-18 record this season, which also goes down as the best in franchise history. Phoenix finished eight games ahead of the second-best Memphis Grizzlies.

As the Suns prepared for Game 5 of their second-round playoff series with the Dallas Mavericks (10 p.m. ET Tuesday in Phoenix; the series is tied 2-2), Williams’ family surprised him the award, with his daughters flying into town for the special moment.

“I’m just grateful that you guys allow me and the staff to coach you guys the way we do, and [for] the connection we have,” Williams said on the team’s practice court with his family and the Suns’ staff watching. “The family atmosphere and everybody back here that makes all of this work, and having my family be a part of this, this is so stinkin’ cool. I love you guys, I appreciate it, but this is us.”

Williams later told the media, via ESPN, “If there’s one award that exemplifies team, it’s the Coach of the Year award because there’s not a coach in the NBA that has bad intentions for the program or for the players. Nobody walks into the gym and hopes that their guys play poorly and tells them not to work and, ‘Please, don’t play defense.’ We don’t do that. In order to get an award like this, it takes a lot of people. … Yeah, my name will go on the plaque, or whatever, but my name represents a lot of names.”

Williams, in his third season with the Suns, has deftly guided his team through a renaissance of sorts. His first team narrowly missed the playoffs after going 8-0 in the COVID “bubble.” His second team snapped a 10-season playoff drought and advanced to the Finals. Now, his third team is favored to win it all. Yet through all of the praise and accolades, Williams has remained humble and grateful to God.

“I’ve often said about my life, ‘God has knocked the ball out of the park, and I get to run the bases,’” Williams said on the Sports Spectrum Podcast last October. “There’ve been some heartaches, a lot of bad decisions on my part, some trials, but God has been good through it all. His plans for us are good, to give us a future and to hope, and I’m an example of that.

“So I’m just grateful for what he’s done in my life, grateful for 50 years, and I think 26 or 27 years in the NBA (as a player and coach). Like, I couldn’t even imagine that when I was a kid, with my mother in a one-bedroom apartment, when I gave my life to the Lord at 10 years old, I couldn’t even imagine that. So the Lord has been good, and I’m grateful for what He’s done in my life.”

Williams has long been outspoken about his faith in Christ, and that has continued in his public role as Suns head coach.

“One of my anchor verses is Colossians 3:23, doing my work as ‘unto the Lord and not unto man,’” Williams said on the podcast. “Another anchor verse for me is Matthew 6:33: ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.’

“Those two verses help me in my coaching, because no matter what’s going on, a big win or tough loss, I know that I’m there to do God’s will. I don’t do it well, and I fail daily. But that’s my reference point. That’s my lighthouse.”

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