OKLAHOMA CITY -- Thunder assistant coach Monty Williams made his first appearance at a game since the death of his wife, Ingrid, in February, as he watched the Thunder's 108-70 Game 1 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday.
"He kind of surprised us there pregame," Kevin Durant said. "It was good to see him. We miss him so much. He's been a huge part of this whole season for us. So it was great to see him."
Williams, who joined Billy Donovan's staff last summer after being fired as coach of the New Orleans Pelicans, has been away from the team on a leave of absence and will not return to coaching this season.
"He's still, in my opinion, part of this family, part of this organization," Donovan said. "I know he's not going to coach anymore this year, but the one thing we always tried to do here is extend an open invitation to him. He was at practice the other day. I talked to him yesterday, and he wanted to come by with his children, which I thought was a great thing."
Williams, a father of five, sat with his children in his family's seats in Section 104. Those seats are where Ingrid would sit for most home games.
"Obviously going through what he went through and knowing where his family's seats are and where his wife would be sitting, I'm sure that probably took some time to even get to that place," Donovan said. "I was watching a Dallas game, one of ours at home, and I got to the end of the tape and stopped the tape and we were walking off the court and I just saw him do this [waving across the court] across the way.
"So I think the difficulty of going back into those seats is challenging. I'm really happy he wanted to come back and be a part and watch. It was great to see him."