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After leading the Phoenix Suns to their first playoff appearance in 11 years, coach Monty Williams won the 2021 Michael H. Goldberg NBCA Coach of the Year award Tuesday. Williams is incredibly deserving of the award after the Suns finished with the second-best record (51-21) in the Western Conference, a position absolutely no one could’ve predicted at the start of the season.
Williams became the head coach of the Suns during the 2019-20 season, a year after the team won just 19 games. Last year, he began to change the culture of the franchise, and coached Phoenix to a perfect 8-0 record in the Orlando bubble, falling just short of the play-in game. While there was positivity heading into this season for the Suns, finishing second in the tough Western Conference surpassed every expectation people had for them.
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Williams released the following statement in receiving the award:
“I am overjoyed to receive the Michael H. Goldberg Coach of the Year Award from the National Basketball Coaches Association. I hold the utmost respect and admiration for the coaches in this league, so to be recognized by my peers is an incredible honor. Every coach in our league sacrifices a ton to make their teams and organizations better, so this is unbelievably humbling.
…This award is far bigger than myself and is a result of the work put in everyday by our players, coaching staff, and the entire Suns organization under the leadership of James Jones and Robert Sarver. This has been a unique year in its challenges, and I am grateful for the tremendous spirit with which our players and staff have approached each day to make this a special season – Everything Counts!”
With the regular season wrapped up, the Suns and Williams will now turn their focus on the postseason where they are still waiting on the results of the play-in tournament to see who they face in their first-round matchup. If the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Golden State Warriors Wednesday night, then Phoenix will draw LeBron James and the Lakers in the first round, which should make for an exciting matchup.
Regardless of how this season ends for the Suns, though, it should be considered a tremendous success with a promising future ahead for this franchise. The Suns were a perennial lottery team, and Williams turned things around in just two seasons for Phoenix. This could be just the starting point of something very special for the Suns.