OAKLAND, Calif. — New Orleans Pelicans coach Monty Williams said the most emotional part of clinching a playoff spot with a 108-103 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday was being able to enjoy the moment with his family — specifically, his 5-year-old son, Micah.
“When I first got to New Orleans, he was fighting for his life during delivery,” Williams said. “Five years later, he’s on the floor with us enjoying that. For me as a dad, put that in perspective. Tell me how you’re supposed to act.”
Williams didn’t explain the nature of the medical issue. He said this was the first time he’s talked about it publicly.
“My five kids have grown up in New Orleans,” Williams said. “That little joker almost lost his life when we got there. Here he is, with all the streamers, all the stuff going on. In my mind, ‘Hey, man, I’m glad we won; this is awesome. But my little dude almost didn’t make it.’ ”
No, the other first time
Williams was asked what he remembered about his first NBA playoff series. The coach proceeded to spend about a minute talking about the 2010-11 Hornets team he took to the playoffs. He was then interrupted and told the question was about his playing career.
“Man, that was 20 years ago,” Williams said, a little surprised.
Williams was a rookie on the 1994-95 New York Knicks team that lost in the second round. His coach was Pat Riley.
“Every day was intense,” Williams said. “Every practice, every film session meant something. So when we got to the playoffs, for (fellow rookie) Charlie (Ward) and I, I don’t think anything changed. I watched Patrick (Ewing) and Derek Harper and all of those guys go through their routines, and I learned from that. I got a chance to play as a rookie in the playoffs. Because of the way we practiced and prepared, I don’t think there was much of a change, at least in the first round.”
Williams’ take on the Splash Brothers
Williams got to help coach Golden State stars Steph Curry and Klay Thompson as an assistant for USA Basketball last summer during the FIBA World Cup.
“I thought those guys were really cool to be around,” Williams said. “I really like their work ethic. Steph is really affable and loves to talk, and he competes. Klay is about as crotchety as an old man passing a stone. That’s just who he is and I like that.”
Signal or noise?
Williams was asked if the fact the Pelicans beat the Warriors 103-100 on April 7 could mean anything.
His response: The Pelicans believe they can beat anybody, but Golden State beat New Orleans twice in Oakland easily.
Williams added: “We’ve been in playoff mode for about a month and a half. Our guys understood that every game that we played was going to be critical because the West is so tough.”