Suns’ Chris Paul and Monty WIlliams share a deep bond


More than a decade after their first connection to New Orleans, Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams and Suns goalie Chris Paul have formed a deep bond after experiencing powerful ups and downs, on and off the ground. (Photo by Ronald Martinez / Getty Images)

PHOENIX – They have come full circle. After a journey marked by both grief and triumph, Monty Williams and Chris Paul have teamed up to lead the Phoenix Suns to their first NBA Finals since 1993.

The shift began over 10 years ago in New Orleans, when Williams first coached Paul. After a disappointing season, the team traded Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers. After spending more than a decade apart, the pair are looking to finish what they started: winning an NBA championship.

“For me to train him in my first year and then he moved on to another team, so that we are back together again and then and know that we can accomplish more, that’s pretty cool,” Williams said.

The two shared special moments throughout the playoffs. They kissed after sweeping the Denver Nuggets to advance to the Western Conference Finals, laughing and finally walking off the pitch hugging each other. After beating the Los Angeles Clippers in the conference final, they did the same.

“You are just thankful to be in these moments with people you are with every day,” said Williams. “Thanking for your family, once again grateful for the people you work with. “

Their bond runs deeper than the usual player-coach relationship. Both began their professional careers in 2005, and it was Paul who was there for Williams during his darkest times. Williams’ wife Ingrid died in a car crash in February 2016. The two had been married for over 20 years and had five children together.

Three of those children were in the car but survived the crash, which happened when a female driver who had methamphetamines in her system crossed the center line of a downtown Oklahoma City street and hit the car of Ingrid, 44.

During his memorial service, Monty Williams said he had “no ill will” for the family of the driver who caused the crash and who also died, adding that “this family has not woken up wanting to hurt my wife “.

He found comfort in those around him, including Paul.

“Chris has meant so much to my career, so much to my life,” said Williams. “The darkest moment of my life Chris was here and one of the highlights of my career he’s here and so I’m grateful to God for him.”

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Paul played for legendary coaches Doc Rivers and Mike D’Antoni, played for Olympic teams made up of Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwanye Wade and Kevin Durant, but it was Williams with whom Paul remained most connected.

“Sometimes you have coaches who are just coaches and sometimes you have relationships that last a lifetime,” Paul said. “Monty is more than a basketball coach.”

The past 10 seasons have not been easy for both of them. Prior to landing the Suns head coach job, Williams was 173-221 as a head coach and was fired after five seasons in New Orleans. He rebounded as an assistant coach and even took two years off before returning to the NBA.

As for Paul, it was a stony road before arriving in the desert. He qualified for a conference final after leaving New Orleans, while playing for three teams along the way. Many wrote him off and called his contract the worst in the NBA. Others called him a bad teammate, but it was the Suns who took their chances on the 36-year-old, making the moment even more special for the two.

“He means so much to me and my family,” said Paul. “To be on this journey with him and to see him pay off is good.”

Williams and Paul’s relationship is a symbol of true friendship, they say, a relationship that consists of trust, love, and speaking the truth, even if the other doesn’t want to hear, as fans have it. seen when Williams sat Paul for the majority of Game 2 against the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round with a shoulder injury.

Williams finished second in the NBA Coach of the Year vote, with Paul finishing fifth in the MVP vote. Their relationship had a significant impact on the team. The Suns have the second best NBA record and are heading to the NBA Finals for the first time in 28 years.

“There are a lot of songs he will come and talk to me about and talk about a lot, but I sit and watch him at the same time,” goaltender Devin Booker said of Paul’s impact.

The Suns appear to have their player-coach duo they’ve been waiting for since the days of Steve Nash-Mike D’Antoni, going through five coaches and eight losing seasons since their last appearance in the Western Conference Finals, and 12 coaches and 10 seasons. losers since their last appearance in the final.

Williams and Paul are looking to complete the journey they started together over a decade ago, which they hope will end in an NBA championship. They are four wins away from their first title as they prepare to face Milwaukee Buck in a best-of-seven series that kicks off at 6 p.m. tonight at the Phoenix Suns Arena.

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