Monty Williams had every reason to be devastated after his Phoenix Suns lost the NBA Finals to the Milwaukee Bucks, but he put that hurt aside to deliver a classy gesture that was in line with how he carries himself on a regular basis. Shortly after the final buzzer, he entered the Bucks locker room and congratulated the team on their accomplishment.
Now, we've learned that he was actually invited in by Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. In a recently released interview with ESPN, Giannis explained that he felt Williams wanted to say a few words, but was reluctant to stop the Bucks' party. So Giannis took care of that part for him and made it happen.
"Yes. I walked in with him in the locker room," Giannis said. "So, I had the people stop the music and stop the champagne. And he was able to talk to the team and congratulate us. We congratulate him, too, and wish him luck. And I told him, I said, "I feel like there's a good chance we might run it back next year." He has a great team, and we have a great team."
Here's the speech that Williams gave to the Bucks.
Following the Suns' Game 6 loss -- the fourth straight for the Suns after going up 2-0 -- Williams explained that he's "never dealt with this kind of hurt as a head coach." It is going to take him time to process the defeat, and he struggled to even get the words out in his postgame press conference.
"I just don't take it for granted," Williams said. "It's hard to get here, and I wanted it so bad, you know? It's hard to process right now. It's hard, you know. That's all." The devastation was palpable. Williams has been on the periphery of the Finals too many times to count. He was drafted by the New York Knicks after their 1994 loss to the Houston Rockets. He left the San Antonio Spurs one year before their 1999 title and joined the Philadelphia 76ers two seasons after they reached the Finals in 2001. He worked as an assistant for the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2016 when they came one win short of the Finals, and then joined the San Antonio Spurs and Philadelphia 76ers in years that they fell short. Finally, with the Suns, he made it to the Finals for the first time. It ended in bitter disappointment.
Nobody would have blamed Williams if he had chosen simply to sulk. He didn't. It was a classy move by a coach widely respected as one of the best human beings in the NBA. Williams may not have won the championship this season, but he won the respect of fans around the NBA for the way he handled himself in defeat.