Williams, married to Herb Williams, a New York Knick assistant coach who played 18 seasons in the NBA, found herself navigating the surreal world of an NBA wife without a coach or rulebook. There were the obvious issues: the ubiquitous women, the rigors of a season's schedule, those were givens. But what she hadn't prepared for were the hidden pressures that an unconventional, high-profile life presented -- and consequently the dearth of understanding and support.
Williams put together a meeting with a dozen women who then went in to meet with the players' organization -- and Behind the Bench (formerly Women of the National Basketball Players Assn.) -- was born. Now boasting nearly 100 members and including wives of active and retired players, Behind the Bench works to expand the public perception of what an NBA wife is and to help the wives get a better grasp on the women they share seats with courtside.
ELEMENTARY: Charitable work is a main focus of the group. Above, members read to children at a Chicago school.; PHOTOGRAPHER: Courtesy of Behind the Bench; FOUNDER: [Deborah A. Williams] formed Behind the Bench, a "Sisterhood" for NBA wives: "You can't afford to just be an accessory."; PHOTOGRAPHER: Francine Orr Los Angeles Times; no caption