The inaugural NBA Awards celebrated athletes and coaches in the style of a Hollywood awards show, handing out well known awards like Most Valuable Player and new trophies for Dunk of the Year and Best Style. Much of the show was fun and frivolous–basically the NBA congratulating the NBA on having a great NBA season— but there was one powerfully poignant moment late in the show. The best moment, by far, came when Monty Williams was awarded the first Sager Strong award.
Craig Sager, the award’s namesake, was a beloved NBA sideline reporter known for is bold sense of style, excellence in reporting, and genuine love for everyone he encountered. Sager lost his battle with cancer during the 2016 season. During his battle with cancer, Sager said, “Time is something that cannot be bought, it cannot be wagered with God, and it’s not in endless supply. It’s simply how you live your life. His legacy is the heartbeat behind the Sager Strong Award, which was handed to Williams by Sager’s widow.
Monty Willaims, the recipient of the award and VP of basketball operations for the San Antonio Spurs, was given the award in light of the way he struggled with and lived undauntedly after the death of his wife, Ingrid, in February 2016. She was killed in a head on car collision in Oklahoma City. She was 44.
His entire eulogy is well worth your time, but make sure to have tissues on hand.
Williams stepped away from his position as assistant coach for the Oklahoma City Thunder after the accident and later accepted a front office job with the Spurs, a role that allows him to spend more time with his five children.
Williams’ speech was full of gratitude, humility, and resolute hope. It was hard to miss his effervescent joy, even in the face of all he has endured.