BOSTON – When Will Hardy played at Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., he grew accustomed to being part of a winning culture.
In his four years with the Ephs (he graduated in 2010), they were 80-31 and made the NCAA Division III Tournament twice.
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And being a couple hours west of Boston, the Richmond, Va., native wasn’t that far away from the Boston-area pro teams that were among the best of the best in their respective sports.
The Red Sox won the World Series in 2007, the Celtics captured Banner 17 in 2008, and the Bruins and the New England Patriots were good teams building towards winning the Stanley Cup and the Super Bowl in 2011 and 2014.
So, the idea that his first job as an NBA assistant coach would be with the San Antonio Spurs, the standard by which every successful pro basketball organization is measured against, shouldn’t come as a surprise.
“I’m really lucky to have started in San Antonio and still be here,” Hardy told CSNNE.com prior to the Spurs' 109-103 win over the Celtics. “The culture was here before I got here so it was on me to adapt to the Spurs culture. It’s a culture with really good people so the transition has been seamless because of the quality of the people and the organization.”
Hardy’s ascension to becoming a Spurs assistant began by beating out 69 other applicants for an internship in the team’s basketball operations office in 2010.
Gradually, he was given more responsibility, and when an assistant coaching position opened up, the 28-year-old Hardy was promoted.
As much as his work ethic and attention to detail certainly played a role in his promotion, Hardy knows opportunities often come down to being in the right place at the right time – two things that have worked in his favor since joining the Spurs organization in 2010.
“I’ve been fortunate with some good timing,” Hardy said. “People above me taking jobs elsewhere.”
Former Spurs assistant Chad Forcier is the most recent assistant to leave the San Antonio coaching flock, for a lead assistant job with Frank Vogel and the Orlando Magic.
Forcier is among the many coaches Hardy counts among those who have helped him be where he is at now on the Spurs staff.
But these days, the biggest influence on him is Gregg Popovich, who ranks among the all-time winningest coaches in NBA history.
“Pop is as advertised,” Hardy said. “He’s tough, he’s detail-oriented. He brings it every day. He’s taught me more than how to be a great coach. He’s really helped me become a better person in San Antonio. I just try to work hard every day and try to support Pops.”
It’s too soon to say whether Hardy will eventually become an NBA head coach or shift over to basketball operations.
For now, he’s soaking in all he can from Popovich and the Spurs franchise, knowing that he’s exactly where he needs to be and wants to be which is in a winning environment.
That’s what he remembers from his days as a player in New England.
And that’s what he has embraced wholeheartedly with his new basketball family, the San Antonio Spurs.