Yesterday, Yahoo published a story by Marc Spears that claimed the heckling of Monty Williams, the head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans, had gotten so severe during the regular season that he was not comfortable with his family attending games in the Smoothie King Center.
"There have been times where I told her to stay home. And that bothered me that I had to tell my wife and kids to stay home because our fans were booing me and we were winning games. That’s the only time that bothered me."
This, by itself, is fine and probably correctly stated. However, prior to this statement and in the very first sentence of his article, Spears mentioned boos were heard in the two playoff home games last week.
New Orleans Pelicans coach Monty Williams continued to express appreciation for the franchise’s fans at the end of the season despite hearing boos during introductions at the two home playoff games.
In essence, he seems to be implying that the fans have not been happy with Williams throughout the season, and worse, that the levels of recent negativity were notably apparent. It's really hard to think of any other connotation first when considering the title of his piece towards the end of April.
Negativity during the playoffs was few and far between
Spears makes no mention of the amount of the heckling last week. Thus, he's purposely letting the imagination of all those who were not in attendance for the first round series in New Orleans to run wild. Thanks to twitter, we had plenty of trustworthy first-hand accounts to answer this question.
When thousands of individuals get together, you're bound to get some indifference. This is especially true when Monty Williams sat in the cross-hairs of a number of fans and writers during the majority of the time in the last several seasons.
Lack of proper context
There is no doubt Monty Williams had legitimate reasons for feeling the way he did; however, we need to rewind back to the New Year to gain a better perspective. On January 2nd, the Pelicans squashed the Houston Rockets, 111-83. Their record stood at 17-16 and they were about to enter the easiest part of the schedule to date: 7 of their next 8 games were against the Eastern Conference. No one imagined that by the time they emerged on the other side, New Orleans would have a losing record.
Welp, that's exactly what had happened. The Pelicans went 3-5 and suffered bad losses to the Hornets, Celtics, 76ers and Knicks. The consensus didn't care that the team had beaten the Grizzlies, knocked off an incredibly hot Pistons team in Detroit and beat the 26-13 Raptors at their place. Or, that the Pelicans lost Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis to injury during this stretch.
Nope, fans were focused on all the bad losses and most of the hatred came raining down on Monty Williams. (Basketball logic 101 dictates that bad losses = coach's fault.) I can still vividly remember so many calling for Monty's head, that the Pelicans front office should make an in-season coaching change. Social media screamed for Monty to not even get aboard the plane flight back to New Orleans following the loss in New York.
Thus, it should have surprised no one that Monty was getting heckled inside the Smoothie King Center. Just after Christmas, there was a report that Williams had met with Mickey Loomis, the Pelicans operations top executive, regarding the team's progress and that the team needed to show more consistency. The disappointing trip through the Eastern Conference was obviously not a step in the right direction.
''I know everybody, rightfully so, is frustrated with some of the games we’ve lost that could have put us in a better position,'' Williams said. ''You can’t stop and listen to all the stuff going on. You’ve got to play it out.
However, the vitriol began to subside as the Pelicans began to win soon thereafter. Following that loss to the Knicks, the team notched a 4-game winning streak and won 7 of 9 games overall that included wins over the Mavericks, Clippers, Hawks and Thunder (the unforgettable Davis three-pointer to win in regulation which notched that important tiebreaker between the two teams).
Following the All-Star break, the Pelicans went 18-11, which was the 8th best record during that time span. Despite more injuries, they made the playoffs in an exciting finish to the regular season, knocking off the World Champion San Antonio Spurs on the final day.
During this entire upswing, the boos were noticeable quieter, bordering on absent. Notwithstanding, Sam Amick wrote an article days before the Spears mention of the Monty heckling also without referencing a time period. Fortunately, SKC attendees dismissed that this was some recent trend.
@usnfish No, they do not boo him constantly during the game, or even consistently during pregame. One guy, yes, does. But not overall.— Jake Madison (@NOLAJake) April 20, 2015
Ugh. Here's the kicker though -- straight from the horses mouth -- Monty stated that in the aforementioned Spears' article he was probably overreacting to the whole situation to begin with.
"My wife has told me she has never heard it. I was probably being too overprotective of my family, but that’s what you do when you’re a father and a husband. But our fans have been great to me. One or two people or five or six people that do that to me, I don’t put too much thought or energy into that."
All of this is a story now because it appears to be contrary behavior to how the Pelicans season finished. That the fans are somehow wrong now with having a negative opinion of when times were bad.
Even so, that surprising success didn’t stop some Pelicans fans from giving Williams a hard time.
Again, Spears' article has the appearance of tying how the Pelicans finished with most of the complaints that happened well before New Orleans season was even remotely considered some kind of success. It has to be because you can't tell me he's concerned with pointing out the opinions of five or six people that decided to boo Monty during the playoffs. 5 or 6 out of 18,444 to be exact.
I'm sorry, but the timing of these recent articles regarding Monty Williams popularity are all blatantly misleading. It's as though they're trying to point to the smoke now when the fire died out months ago. Why didn't either article go into the details of the what, and more importantly, the when? Say, when the ire was easily at it's peak?
If you think I'm off base and don't believe journalists don't hunt for good controversy, just have a look at this.
"Lots" I see about five empty seats. https://t.co/6pLQ8a11JC— Will (@Will_NOLA) April 24, 2015
It sure seems like to me Spears was rather quick to take a shot at the home attendance in New Orleans first playoff game in 4 years. At least he deleted that comment, huh?