Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams has won the Red Auerbach Trophy as NBA Coach of the Year, the league announced Monday.
Williams won by a landslide, landing 81 first-place votes and finishing with 458 points overall in balloting by a panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters. Memphis Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins (17 first-place votes, 270 points) and Miami Heat counterpart Erik Spoelstra (1, 72) finished second and third, respectively.
This is Williams’ first NBA Coach of the Year Award, and he joins Cotton Fitzsimmons (1988-89) and Mike D’Antoni (2004-05) as Phoenix head coaches to earn the honor.
It comes a year after Williams finished second in voting, just 11 points behind winner Tom Thibodeau of the New York Knicks.
Under Williams, the Suns finished with an NBA-best 64-18 regular-season record and earned the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs. Along the way, they won a franchise-record 18 consecutive games and also went 16-0 in November, which was tied for the second-most wins in a month without a loss in league history (the Atlanta Hawks went 17-0 in January 2015).
“If there’s one award that exemplifies team, it’s the Coach of the Year award because there’s not a coach in the NBA that has bad intentions for the program or for the players,” Williams said. “Nobody walks into the gym and hopes that their guys play poorly and tells them not to work and, ‘Please, don’t play defense.’ We don’t do that. In order to get an award like this, it takes a lot of people.”
Williams made sure to salute all of them, from owner Robert Sarver and general manager James Jones to team security and the flight attendants that work Phoenix’s road trips.
“There’s so many people that help us have a consistent day and they create a bubble for us to have success,” Williams said. “Yeah, my name will go on the plaque, or whatever, but my name represents a lot of names.”
Williams said his players caught wind of the award news last week and coordinated with his wife, Lisa, to have two of the coach’s daughters fly into Phoenix to be on hand for the trophy presentation. His youngest son, Micah, was put in charge of handing the trophy over.
“I had no idea what was going on,” Williams said. “To see the players and everybody in that moment, it spoke to the character and the care-factor of our team. Everybody on our team cares about everybody.”
It’s been an award-winning few weeks for Williams. Last month, he was honored with the National Basketball Coaches Association Coach of the Year award for a second straight season.
Williams, 50, is in his third season in Phoenix and his eighth overall as an NBA coach, including five with the New Orleans Pelicans (2010-2015). He is a career 322-299.
Before the past two seasons under Williams, it had been 10 years since the Suns had finished with at least 50 wins in the regular season, and last year’s NBA Finals trip was their first since Charles Barkley led them there in 1993.
Jenkins led the Grizzlies to a franchise record-tying 56 wins and the second seed in the Western Conference.
Spoelstra, the NBA’s second-longest-tenured coach behind Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs, piloted the Heat to the best record in the Eastern Conference despite a revolving door of injuries to Miami’s key players.
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