Hornets' Williams, Rivers have similar styles

Hornets' Williams, Rivers have similar styles
December 7, 2011, 6:53 pm
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If the Rajon Rondo-for-Chris Paul trade rumors ever materialize into a done deal, there will be an adjustment period for both players.

But they each may find their new head coach isn't all that different than the old one.

New Orleans head coach Monty Williams has never been an assistant on Doc Rivers' bench in Orlando or here in Boston. But make no mistake about it. He is a Rivers' disciple.

"To say he's just been a big brother, would be understating it," Williams said.

And you can bet that relationship has given both a clearer understanding of exactly what they would be getting at the point guard position if the Rondo-for-Paul trade comes to fruition.

Rivers and Williams' relationship dates back to when Rivers was nearing the end of his career with the New York Knicks, and Williams was a promising first-round pick out of Notre Dame.

"Monty is one of my favorite people in the world; he literally is," Rivers said.

Williams' athleticism was among his strongest traits at the time, and he wasn't coy about putting it on display. But Rivers had seen enough athletes in his career who didn't improve in other facets of their game. He didn't want to see Williams suffer a similar fate.

"All the young guys, all these silly dunks. You're never going to get that in a game," Rivers said. "Work on your jump-shot, work on your skill stuff. I believe that to this day, with everybody."

But Williams recalls when Rivers' brotherly advice took on a much harsher tone than he expected.

It was shortly after warm-ups during his rookie season. A teammate asked him to dunk the ball, so Williams responded with a windmill jam. Someone asked him to do another dunk, so he did it.

"He (Rivers) pulled me to the side one day and just ripped me," Williams recalled. "'Stop dunking the ball work on your game. You're going to be out of this league in two to three years if you don't work on your game.' And he walked away from me."

The words weren't what Williams wanted to hear, obviously.

"From that point on, I was mad and embarrassed," Williams said. "But I understood he was trying to look out for my career."

It is that kind of tough love that at times has made Rivers' relationship with Rondo a bit bumpy. And Williams, who just finished his first season as the Hornet's head coach, has also had some ups and downs with Paul.

That comes with the territory of being an NBA head coach in the mold of Rivers.

"He's been willing to risk our relationship to tell me the truth," Williams said. "I find myself doing that. I will tell players the truth. I get a lot of that from Doc."

Said Rivers: "You have to be honest. If telling someone the truth ruins your relationship, I always believe that there is no relationship."