During the press-conference introducing Monty Williams as the new head-coach of the New Orleans Hornets, he made it a point to thank the San Antonio Spurs and Gregg Popovich for giving him his first steps into coaching.
But how did it all begin? Well with no pay, sweat-soaked towels, and sweeping.
San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich saw it too. When chronic knee injuries forced Williams to retire in 2003, Popovich offered him a notebook, a chair and a spot in the corner of the team’s practice facility. There Williams could observe workouts, evaluate players and learn about life as an NBA coach.
Williams expanded his duties to include chasing down loose balls, picking up sweat-soaked towels, sweeping the practice courts and breaking down videotape. At first, he was paid nothing, but the experience was invaluable.
“I didn’t have a title,” Williams said. “I did whatever they needed me to do. It was the best time of my life. I loved it.”
The labor of love in San Antonio allowed Williams to catch the eye of Portland coach Nate McMillian, who offered a spot as an assistant in 2005.
Many in the NBA owe the Spurs and Popovich thanks. From Sam Presti with the Oklahoma Thunder, to Steve Kerr with the Phoenix Suns, and many others and now Monty Williams can be added to this list of the Spurs-Popovich coaching tree.
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