METAIRIE, La. — Years before Monty Williams earned a spot in the lead chair on an NBA sideline, Ingrid Williams told her husband that would one day be in the Olympics.
Williams, ever the self-deprecating type, wondered if he had married an individual who needed help.
“I would look at her like, not only was she crazy enough to marry me but now she’s just spouting off stuff that’s just unrealistic,” Williams said.
Turns out, she’s not so crazy.
Monty Williams was named one of three assistant coaches for the U.S. men’s basketball team Monday, fulfilling the prophesy that Ingrid Williams felt so confident in.
He’ll join Tom Thibodeau of the Chicago Bulls and Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim in coaching the nation’s best under Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who has led the national team since 2006.
Williams and Thibodeau, the Chicago Bulls’ head coach, replace Mike D’Antoni and Nate McMillan.
Williams has know for a few weeks about the opportunity and Monday, he was able to break out a blue USA Basketball polo a friend of his had sent him long before he was named an assistant.
New Orleans’ head coach was in his truck with one of his daughters when the call came from USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo. Williams said he was quiet, wondering if the opportunity was legit.
“I was a bit dumbfounded that he would ask me and then he ran down this list of reasons why he wanted me to be on the staff,” Williams said. “Yeah I was overwhelmed but I was quiet.”
“When you look at his background, the years he served as an assistant coach with various outstanding head coaches, the players he has worked with, his reputation, his character, his propensity for teaching defense, etcetera,” Colangelo said, “we thought he was a perfect candidate. His age. He just had all the ingredients we were looking for in adding an assistant to our staff.
“We have high regard for Monty and look forward to spending time with him.”
The first opportunity Williams will have in his new position will be in late July, when the national team will go through a four-day minicamp. The first tournament will be the FIBA Basketball World Cup from Aug. 20-Sept. 14, 2014.
Williams has coached the New Orleans NBA franchise since 2010, leading it to the postseason in his first season. But the team has struggled since losing Chris Paul and David West, missing the playoffs the past two seasons.
However, the team appears to be trending upward thanks to a nucleus of young players, including former No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis. The Pelicans will pick No. 6 in this month’s NBA draft.
And the gig comes with the added advantage of coaching Davis some more. The Pelicans’ big man, along with Ryan Anderson, will be involved in the July minicamp in Las Vegas. For Davis and Williams, the relationship can only be aided by this move.
“Out there in Vegas, that has to be basketball nirvana to have all those great players and coaches in one spot and everybody just working to get better,” Williams said.
That includes for Williams, not just Davis.
“I just felt like this was an opportunity for me to learn a ton,” Williams said. “In talking to Coach K a couple of days ago, he was talking about what he wanted me to bring to the staff and things like that. But my thought process was, ‘man, I’m going to glean a lot from being around this situation.”