Suns Coach Monty Williams Writes Open Letter To Express Anger, Fear

Published: Wednesday, June 3, 2020 - 5:57pm
Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams (right) addresses the media alongside general manager James Jones in May 2019.

The NBA may still be silent on the court during the coronavirus pandemic, but many of the league’s players and coaches are speaking out about the domestic strife and unrest caused as a result of the killing of George Floyd and other African Americans in recent years at the hands of police officers around the country.

After watching the coverage with his five children, aged 9 to 22, Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams could no longer hold his tongue. He decided to write an open letter, released through the team, to express his anger, fear and pain. Here’s an excerpt:

“To my brothers and sisters from around the sports world, and in full transparency, help me. I’m looking for direction. I may not be the most profound or prolific — I know there are others with their own platforms out there telling yourself the same things — but we have an opportunity and I daresay, an obligation. How can we help each other find that direction?”

In a conference call with media members on Tuesday, Williams said he thought about his two African American sons when writing the letter.

“The helpless feeling is I don’t have an answer for why a man like George Floyd has to die like that and my kids are sitting there watching” Williams said.

With basketball on hold because of the pandemic, he and his team have been paying close attention to the unrest around the nation.

“I’m sure it’s because we’re off and we have the time, so we’ve been focused on it.” Williams said. “That’s a good thing. I hope we stay focused on this so we can come with some solutions so that we don’t have to continue to watch what’s happening in Georgia, what’s happening in Minneapolis. I’m tired of seeing that.”

The Suns second-year head coach says the events of 2020 have been overwhelming for his team and the league, between the death of Kobe Bryant in January, the coronavirus knocking them off the court in March and now the outrage and protests over Floyd’s death. 

Williams has been meeting with them virtually.

“That’s a lot of stuff to deal with. We wanted to let them know that we’re here for them," Williams said. 

He also wanted them to know that he was speaking out for himself and not behalf of the team and didn’t expect them to do the same.

“It is in no way an attempt to force you to do something, or feel like you have to do something,” Williams said.

Meanwhile, ESPN is reporting that the NBA is discussing a late July return playing all games in Orlando with a 22-team playoff structure that would complete the finals by early October, but no final plans have been made. Under that scenario, the Suns who would be out of the playoff picture under a usual 16-team format, may indeed be included in the postseason chase.

No matter what happens, Williams hopes if they do get a chance to play again this season, they can be a bright spot in otherwise dark time.

“It’s not just our country, it’s also the world that’s looking for something to hold on to, that’s authentic," Williams said. 

But he cautioned against a hasty return.

“I don’t want it to deflect from the things that we need to pay attention to. As much as we want to get back to playing basketball, baseball, football — there are still a number of issues in our social structure that need attention," he said. 

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