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Suns coach Monty Williams: ‘If any of that stuff happened while I was here, I wouldn’t be in this seat’

Suns coach Monty Williams

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - NOVEMBER 02: Head coach Monty Williams of the Phoenix Suns reacts during the NBA game at Footprint Center on November 02, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Pelicans 112-100. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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Monty Williams was one of the most-coveted coaches on the market in 2019. The Lakers, who had LeBron James and therefore a path to a championship, appeared very interested. Yet, Williams chose Phoenix – citing Suns owner Robert Sarver as a reason.

Now, Sarver is being investigated after allegations he made racist and sexist comments in operating the team and oversaw a toxic workplace (charges he has mostly denied).

Williams, via Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic:

“An article was written, many opinions were shared, many feelings were shared, but all of it happened before I was here,” Williams said. “Based on what you know about me, the little you know about me, if any of that stuff happened while I was here, I wouldn’t be in this seat.”
“This is a situation where they’re going to rally around each other and hoop,” Williams said. “That’s what we do. At the same time, these aren’t comfortable situations. I understand the sensitivity of everything that’s been said or written about and expressed and it takes courage to come out and express yourself. And at the same time, I’m aware there are two sides to this equation.”

One of the NBA’s most-respected coaches, Williams carries a lot of credibility here. His emotional intelligence will go a long way in guiding the Suns through this turbulence.

This is still a team with a chance to advance deep in the playoffs. Williams and his players don’t deserve to have that opportunity undercut by Sarver drama.

The longest-tenured Sun, Devin Booker also provides valuable perspective.

Booker, via Rankin:

“I wasn’t aware of the situation and in my seven years I’ve been here, I haven’t noticed that, but that doesn’t make me insensitive to the subject,” Booker said.
“They’ll do their due diligence, bringing out facts instead of he said, she said,” Booker said. “I’m sure the NBA has it in good hands and will do the proper research to find out the truth.”

If neither Williams nor especially Booker saw misconduct, that’d say something about its pervasiveness within the organization. Of course, that doesn’t invalidate accounts of incidents Williams and Booker didn’t see.

Chris Paul, Phoenix’s team leader and other star, has more experience with these issues from the Donald Sterling affair.

Paul, via Rankin:

“I feel like situations are different,” Paul said. “We dealt with that in that time when all of that happened. I think right now, like Book said, we’re not insensitive to everything that was said, but we don’t know all the details. So the NBA will do its investigation and in that time, all of us on our team, we’ll continue to play and do what we do.”

Williams, Booker and Paul all sound very much on the same page about letting the investigation play out and focusing on basketball in the meantime. That won’t completely eliminate the distraction, but it’ll help.