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June 23, 2016

Dragan Bender

Brooklyn, New York

THE MODERATOR: Talk about what you'll bring to the Suns.

DRAGAN BENDER: I guess just versatility on both ends of the floor. Defensively just being able to switch a lot of positions on the court, and then staying in front of the guard on the perimeter. And offensively just being a guy that can stretch the floor, and can help a lot with passing and delivering the ball to the right places and just handling the ball in the open court and half court.

Q. Do you like the nickname "Croatian Sensation"?
DRAGAN BENDER: Yeah, I've heard it a lot. I like it for sure. But yeah, like you said, I like it. I've heard it before also a couple of years. So far it's a great nickname.

Q. Do you ever hit your head on doorways and ceilings?
DRAGAN BENDER: When I was younger probably I did. I did, yeah, of course. But then you just get used to it, you know. So you need to take care of that.

Q. Back-to-back years a Croatian has been drafted in the top five. What does that mean to you and what does that mean for your country back home?
DRAGAN BENDER: It means a lot, just in terms of the work in Croatia, the national team, and just overall in Croatia. I think there is even more guys that are coming right now that are huge talents, and just looking forward for those guys to come overseas and to build really good Croatian connections and start to build a great national team for that and to win some championships, you know.

Q. Toni Kukoc was one of my favorite Croatians. Did he have any impact on you growing up and any advice or even just watching him growing up, was he one of your favorite players?
DRAGAN BENDER: For sure, he was my role model growing up. I was playing in a club and he was playing, also, so playing in that same gym and feeling that same atmosphere was a great experience. And just watching all the tapes, him playing in Jugoplastika when they won three titles and then he was in Benetton Treviso, and then coming overseas with the Chicago Bulls and winning the titles with them, he was a great player overall and he was somebody I was looking up to growing up.

Q. I notice everyone is wearing a bowtie. Tell me about yours. It's different.
DRAGAN BENDER: I guess it's a new generation thing. It's great. It's cool. I guess it's just a new generation thing.

Q. You've been compared to a player who was drafted in last year's draft and plays for the Knicks: Kristaps Porzingis. Do you think that's an accurate comparison? What similarities do you have to him and his game?
DRAGAN BENDER: Right. I guess people are going to compare European talents to European talents, the same that when he came there, comparing to Dirk Nowitzki and guys like that. So I guess this is a normal thing for them.

Besides that, we are coming from Europe and both seven-footers that can shoot from outside and move the body. I guess that's the only things that are similar. But we're definitely different type of players. He's two years older than me, a lot more experience, so in that part, also, we are different.

Q. Dragan, Phoenix Suns, looks like Marquese Chriss may be coming with you. A bunch of young guys in Phoenix. Do you feel like that's a good thing for how you play? And what do you feel like your game is going to be like for the Phoenix Suns?
DRAGAN BENDER: I mean, it's always good for young guys that there's a couple guys on the team that are the same age. It's a good thing for Phoenix for sure, for the organization and for the future, and also for practice, you always have someone -- young guys on the practice that you can battle with them and just go each and every day against each other. I think it's a great thing, and looking forward in the future, I guess it's going to be a really good thing in the long-term.

Q. Going from the Negev Desert to the Sonora Desert, can you talk about Israel and how you're looking forward to going to Phoenix?
DRAGAN BENDER: Right, I guess it's pretty similar weather in Israel and Phoenix. It's pretty hot during the year and in the summer. So I guess that's a good thing for me. But it's a totally different city, bigger city and everything, different style of life for sure. I enjoyed life in Tel Aviv and I enjoyed life in Israel overall, great people, especially the great club I was playing in. I really enjoyed it, so I'm just looking forward to Phoenix and will try to enjoy it over there.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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