The mood inside the Thunder’s practice facility this morning was completely opposite of the usual noisy, jovial atmosphere reporters are greeted by when the doors open. Instead, with the tragic passing of Ingrid Williams, the wife of Monty Williams, it was a very somber, emotional environment with players focused on their drills and workouts, doing little talking in between.
Kevin Durant came over to speak with reporters and became very emotional in talking about Williams and his wife, making it only about 20 seconds before having to excuse himself.
“I tried to think about what I’m going to say, but I just love Coach Monty so much, man,” Durant said. “I feel for him. Somebody we all love… I just don’t know what to say. I’m sorry, excuse me.”
Said Billy Donovan: “It’s really hard because, at least here, with our staff, it’s beyond just working together. There’s deep close relationships. Besides the basketball piece of it, there’s a relationship piece that when you’re working with someone every single day you develop an incredible bond. He’s a great person, first and foremost, and he’s got a great family. You go through something like this, you’re just constantly thinking about his family, and his kids. For me, one of the things I wanted to do when I first came here, like everybody talks about you gotta have an expert here and an expert there. I never believed that. I believe you have to have great people. And when you have great people you develop great bonds and when you have great bonds you develop teamwork. And Monty’s a total team guy.”
Anthony Morrow played for Williams in New Orleans, and knew Ingrid well.
“It’s been real emotional,” Morrow said. “Me personally knowing Coach Williams and Miss Ingrid from when I played in New Orleans, they just embraced me and my family and just a lot of stuff personally that they’ve been able to help me and my family get through. And a lot of other guys. It’s just been a real, as you can imagine, kind of flat atmosphere. But at the same time, we understand what’s going on and we’ve just got to keep the family in our prayers every single day, every minute, and that’s all we’re going to be doing.
“In my opinion, God called one of his true angels back home,” he said. “She was the person you could always go to with anything. Coach Williams as well. Those two are the standard when it comes to marriage, when it comes to being believers. Just inspirations. I feel like I lost a family member for sure, and I’m sure everyone else feels the same way.”
The Thunder, coincidentally, play the Pelicans tonight. The Thunder are planning a pregame ceremony to honor Ingrid, but the idea of playing a game is a difficult one for the players.
“I don’t know,” Morrow said of playing. “I can’t even answer that question. I know that Coach Williams has always been kind of the backbone of every situation. We miss his voice today. Obviously none of us can imagine the pain he’s going through. So I don’t know.”
“The harsh reality is we have a game to play,” Donovan said. “We’ve got to go out there and do the best job we can. And that’s really all there is. It doesn’t mean that we’re not hurting as an organization, as a team, as a coaching staff, but we’re called to have to play tonight, so we have to go out and play tonight.”