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Monty Williams on why he chose Detroit Pistons job: ‘Troy, the players, and the money’

Monty Willams talks about the Pistons roster, the need to compete, and why he’s married to his job

Phoenix Suns v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

Monty Williams never intended on coaching next season. Part of that was financial — he had millions still guaranteed from the Phoneix Suns, the team that just unceremoniously fired him — and he was dealing with important family matters that were bigger than basketball.

During his introductory press conference as the new head coach of the Detroit Pistons, Williams revealed that his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer during the NBA playoffs. He fully intended to focus on the needs of his wife and on the opportunity to be a bigger part of his family day-to-day.

Williams said he revealed these details about his family because he credits the genetic testing and early screening with potentially saving his wife’s life, and he encouraged other women to do the same.

As fate would would have it, Williams received positive news about his wife’s prognosis, and the Pistons, who he’d already rebuffed, called back.

“To be honest with you, I committed that night,” Williams said about his first in-person meeting with owner Tom Gores at his California home with Troy Weaver and other members of the Pistons’ brain trust in tow.

Why Detroit? Monty was unfailingly honest, and it’s something everyone should appreciate.

“Troy, the players, and the money.”

Yes, becoming the highest-paid coach in NBA history certainly never hurts. But Williams was important to point out that the money not only represents security, it also represents a commitment, and a generosity of spirit toward his family and the needs of his family that was represented in myriad ways.

For a billionaire like Gores going from a standard $5 million per season coach to a $12 million per season coach is like a rounding error. But Gores was adamant that it is what the players and the organization deserved after so much turmoil through the team’s painful restoration.

“Getting Monty has come at a very important time,” Gores said, as the franchise eyes turning the corner after three seasons near the bottom of the standings. “Those young men were relying on us,” Gores noted, pointing to nearly the entire Pistons roster who had attended the press conference.

Gores, Weaver and Williams all emphasized that winning was, indeed, possible, with this crew thanks to the talent already on the roster, the growth of young players, and the fact that there is a level of belief and commitment not common in today’s NBA.

“I’m walking into a locker room with a great group of guys who want to get better,” Williams said. “You see the talent for sure. You see the size. When I talk to them, they all look me in the eye, which is impressive. I message them, and they get back to me right away, which is rare.

“There is a hunger. A desire. They all want it. It really gets to you when you think about it.”

Williams noted that he’d heard from several former Pistons players who were excited to see him take the reigns and spoke highly of the organization. He noted Chauncey Billups and Derrick Coleman were among the first to call.

Finally, there was Troy Weaver, typically a man of few words. But at the end of the press conference, he wanted to make clear that while there was some disagreement between himself and Gores about the head coaching search, it was because nobody believed something like Williams was possible more than Gores. At least that’s how I read his rather verbacious comment. I tried to capture it as clearly as possible. You be the judge:

A big part of this day happening is because of the thoughtfulness and the heart that Tom has. For five days, George kind of refereed Tom and I. It was just a moment where he just really poured out his thoughtfulness and his heart into this day happening because he believed that if you put your heart into something, and you make people understand things a different way, you can get a different result. And that’s why we’re here. We got a different result. His no became a yes because of Tom’s thoughtfulness and his heart.

Made me and mark and Arn and …(???) see things a different way. We’re grateful and thankful for that. That doesn’t usually happen. People don’t come out of the box and think out of the box. Put people’s families first.

Tom really stepped up that way and made sure we were thoughtful. A really proud moment for me to be a part of the Pistons. Can’t thank Tom enough for that, and we’re here today because of that.