Monty Williams is, undoubtedly, in one of the toughest spots an NBA head coach could ever find themselves in.
On Thursday, just hours before the Suns hosted the Houston Rockets, a bombshell ESPN report dropped detailing racist, misogyny and toxic culture throughout the Phoenix organization under team owner Robert Sarver.
So, leading up to their contest with the Rockets at the Footprint Center, Williams was busy answering questions about Sarver’s alleged behavior.
“I have to do my job,” Williams told reporters. “During the Finals and the playoff run, you get to do all these fun stories, right? And you sit there willingly. Well today’s a day that I really don’t want to do this, but it’s my job, and I have to do it … I’ve got a group in there that expects me to be my best in every situation. I’m going to be my best.”
Monty Williams: ‘I wouldn’t be in this seat’ if that happened while I was here
Sarver was accused of, among other things, repeatedly using the N-word, ordering his players to “take out” Vince Carter, meddling in on-court affairs, going on verbal tirades and discussing sexually explicit activities or topics in the office.
The NBA launched an official investigation into the allegations against Sarver — who has repeatedly denied them.
At this point, Williams said, he’s not going to jump to a conclusion either way.
“It’s a lot to process. There’s so many things there, and for me it’s still not clear as far as the facts are concerned,” Williams said. “As someone who is a caretaker of the program, I find all of these things that are being said serious in nature and, these allegations are — sensitive is an understatement. But at the same time, it’s just not clear yet.”
Williams’ current stint with the Suns marks his second head coaching job in the league, following a five-year run in New Orleans from 2010-15.
Part of what is making these allegations so hard for him to deal with, he said, is because of the relationship he’s built with Sarver.
“It’s a big deal for me because of the conversations I had with Robert,” Williams said. “We were pretty candid about things that we needed to say, to bring up as far as how I wanted to coach, how I wanted to work every day, how he wanted things done, we talked about a lot. So to say that ownership didn’t play a big deal in my decision to come here, that would be false. It was. I couldn’t do what I do if I didn’t have the partnership and relationship that I had with Robert in the past two years.”
Williams, though, did make one thing clear.
The third-year Suns coach would not have stayed in Phoenix if any of the incidents alleged in the ESPN story occurred while he was leading the program.
“An article was written, many opinions were shared, many feelings were shared, but all of it happened before I was here,” he said. “Based on what you all know about me, what little you know about me, if any of that stuff happened while I was here, I wouldn’t be in this seat.”