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June 30, 2021

Monty Williams

Randy Ayers

Phoenix Suns

Game 6: Postgame

Phoenix Suns 130, LA Clippers 103

Q. Monty, this journey that you, Chris, Book, everyone has been on, how do you describe what this moment is like tonight?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I couldn't do it justice right now. I'm just unbelievably grateful for the blessings that I've received as a coach working with people like Randy [Ayers], getting to coach the players, moments like this. Just out there on the floor talking to a few of the guys, they were trying to figure out the feelings we were all having. I remember being in those moments when I was in San Antonio. It's hard to describe. You're just grateful for it, and we know we have more work to do.

But it's hard to describe it in the moment. You're just grateful for being in these moments with people you're with every single day and thankful for your family, thankful for again the people you work with, thankful for the fans that traveled. To be able to win a game like that is huge for the organization, the city, all of that stuff.

So that's what I have in my heart right now. It's just a lot of gratitude. I'm just so thankful God has given me the job I have and I get to work with the people I work with.

Q. [Question about Chris Paul taking over the game in the second half.]

MONTY WILLIAMS: I've told you guys from the jump I wanted to stay out of his way. There were questions about his production before tonight, and in my heart I felt like it was a matter of time. I didn't know it was going to be like that, but that's who Chris is. He was tired and he was still making those kinds of plays -- getting to the basket, the threes, orchestrating everything.

I'm grateful that I get to coach him again. When I first had him in 2010, and he went on actually to come here [to play in Los Angeles with the Clippers], in your wildest dreams you couldn't have put it together in this way. So to watch him out there tonight, I was so grateful to be on his side. Then I really enjoyed watching him and his emotions after the game. I was like, I must be getting old now because I'm enjoying watching other people. It used to be about me. Now I'm looking at everybody else having a good time and I'm like, man, I'm getting old.

Q. At one point you had your arms around him. What was that moment like when you connected with him finally?

MONTY WILLIAMS: It's just authentic. That's what I felt like doing. I'm not into cool. I just felt like hugging him. I think his parents were right behind us and he was emotional. I felt for him. I had my emotional time before the game. That's why Randy is sitting here with me. Today about 2:30 we were in the locker room. It was just Randy and I. I was like, man, Randy, we're so close. And then Randy starts telling me what he felt about me, because he's been with me since day one in New Orleans. And I broke down before the game. So I understood the emotions that Chris was dealing with. I just ran out of tears. I used all mine up about 2:30, 3 o'clock today.

So Chris started crying. Jae was laughing; he's like, Chris is going to start crying. I said, yeah, I had mine earlier. He looked at me and I said, dude, I broke down about 2:30, 3 o'clock today. I was gone, because Randy had just spoke from the heart to me about some things that we have been through. He's been with me every step of the way since New Orleans and now. So just grateful for those moments.

Q. Monty, I saw you had the moment with Devin too, with your arm around him. You look at the moment he had last year and you told him in the locker room in the bubble, you've been through a lot. He stuck around in that situation. There were a lot of situations that end up differently like this, but he stuck around in Phoenix and for him to get here, how do you feel for him as a coach and a friend?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I'm happy for him. Because I've been with him every day now athletically for two years. So I've seen the work, I've seen the passion, I've seen his family and how they, not just him but they want it. They love Phoenix. They don't want to go anywhere. They wanted to do it there. So for us to be in this position to go forward and have a chance to win a championship, it takes me back to my first conversation with him at a restaurant in Scottsdale. He looked me right in the eyes and he said, Coach, whatever you need me to do, I'll do it. And that was the beginning.

So to see him in this position is gratifying. But he would be the first one to tell you, we enjoy this, but we know we have more work to do. He's dead set on competing for a championship. That's been his focus. I'm glad to be a part of it.

Q. Randy, I'll ask you, what is this moment like for you and just that conversation earlier in the day, just how did that unfold from your perspective and what was that like?

RANDY AYERS: Well, it's been great to be alongside this gentleman for, what's it now, seven years? Five in New Orleans and two here. He respects the position. And that's really gratifying for me, to see how much work he puts into it.

I told him today like we'll have a situation that we want to talk about at the end of the day before we all go home. I know the next day he's put in the time to come up with a solution for that situation. And you respect that. I've seen that for seven years. I've seen the growth for seven years. So that's really special for me to see.

And it's been 20 years for me to get back to this point. So you got to put in the time, I guess. It's a grind, but I'm happy to be here.

Q. Monty, both of you, being basketball lifers and knowing what it's like, do you have any sense of the opportunity tonight how special it was for Chris Paul playing his former team, making a Finals for the first time, playing for his former coach, I mean it seems like all of that coming together. Can you put words to that?

MONTY WILLIAMS: Yeah, you can't. I mean, I wouldn't do it justice. It would be really hard to do that. But you just never think that you're going to have those kinds of opportunities. It's a bit of a sweet spot. We haven't won the championship that we want to win, but to see it come together like this, for Chris to be able to come back here -- Randy and I and Willie Green were together with him in New Orleans. He left and we stayed in contact. Randy and Chris stayed in contact. We were all still tight, and for us to get back together again and do this, like how do you put that into words? You're just like watching it from afar, you know what I'm saying? Even though you're in it, you're just kind of watching it like, wow, this is pretty cool.

I'm really happy for Chris because, again, I see the work that he puts in. I see the care. You saw the tears after the game. You never know if you're going to be in these positions and you watch guys get there three, four, five times. Some people get there more than that, and you're like, man, I worked my tail off. Then you just realize it's a blessing, because everybody works at it. So if you get a chance to be a part of it, you realize you've been unbelievably blessed. So to see it come together the way that you described is pretty cool.

Q. Can you tell me this about, there's so much happened today that he we forget that Chris was out, that he had the COVID issues. I mean can you talk about that to where you are now. And then also he was balling today too. This is like a game, I don't know when is the last time he's played like this, but can you talk about like just how this whole series started and also what you saw tonight from him.

MONTY WILLIAMS: For him to put up 41 and eight and control the game that he did, this is the second time we closed a team out and I think he had 37 in the closeout game against Denver. That's just who he is.

But when we started the series, even before the series started I got the call, you know, hey, Chris might be out. Your heart sinks for a second because you're like, man, like, not right now. You know what I mean? But after talking to him and talking to the team, and watching Jae and Book and those guys grow in their leadership roles and hold it down until Chris could get back, it's just been an emotional ride for us, just in this series alone.

But we have dealt with it the whole playoffs. I mean, in the Laker series he gets a stinger, or whatever that was in the shoulder. He's playing with half of his body basically. He's playing with one arm. So I told our guys, everything you want is on the other side of hard. You just have to continue to persevere as best you can and not give up, and hopefully something good is on the other side.

Q. What can the world learn from this, this series?

MONTY WILLIAMS: Will. Never quit. He has a number of contemporaries that have won championships and been in this position, and having been around him, that's all he wants. He wants to be a part of winning. He's persevered through a lot -- injuries, playoff heartbreak, being as close as he was in Houston and getting hurt and not having a chance to compete for a title, I know that burned him. And so for me to be able to watch that and then be in a position with him to go forward to have a chance is pretty cool.

If you can learn anything from Chris Paul, it's to keep going, don't quit. Serve others, because that's what he does. He cares about his teammates. You guys have no idea how much time he spends with these young guys on our team. I think when you serve people like that, they follow you. That's why he's such a good leader, because he serves the guys that are around him.

Q. I wanted to ask about Deandre. This was his 11th playoff double-double and kind of bounced back from last game where it was I guess subpar by his standards. This was the second time he did that this series. What did you see from him in terms of his growth and more importantly his consistency?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I think with DA, Randy could attest to this because he and Mark Bryant spend more time with him than I do, actually, but he's just learned how to embrace the grind. The day-in, day-out work and then he's starting to see it pay off on this level. It's one thing to see it pay off in the regular season; it's totally different to see a guy dominate series after series after series and see all the work that's put in and all the things that they do every single day, Randy and Mark and the group of bigs.

I think that's what I've seen from him. He's embraced the work. He's embraced being a part of the scouting report. He's embraced coaching. He understands that we're trying to call him up, not out, and how much we care about him. He's embraced it all. At first it wasn't as easy, because he didn't know me and I really didn't know him and there was a lot of new stuff coming at him, and then he had the pressure of being No. 1 pick. Once he got all of that out of his mind, I think he just embraced his role and embraced the grind of trying to be a really good NBA player.

Q. The Clippers were on a 10-0 run, they blow a coverage out of the defense, Chris is open and he hits that jumper. How big of a shot do you think that was?

MONTY WILLIAMS: It was a shot that helped me loosen up in a certain area of my body, you know what I mean? That was the deal. It was getting to that point where I used a timeout on a challenge, so my timeouts were starting to get a little dicey. For whatever reason they didn't guard him on the right wing. Just kind of stared at him and it was a moment. Chris loves those moments, but when he hit that shot it was almost like symbolically he was like, Coach, I got it. He's done that time and time again this season.

Q. Did he say anything in that timeout that you remember?

MONTY WILLIAMS: He and I were both talking about poise and execution. We knew that it could get a bit physical. Every series we have had, it's been emotional. Stuff is happening in a closeout game. So he was talking about that. I reiterated it. I tried to give us some structure on offense. And we have been talking about poise with this group for a long time and it paid off tonight.

Q. What was your takeaway with how Devin played, through the physical nature of a series and adjusting with the mask and playing these games?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I mean for as young as Book is, he's done an awful lot in his career. I think people forget like even though he wasn't winning as much, he was in a lot of situations. And he was the target every night. So I don't think this was new for him; it was just on a different stage. I thought the world saw his fearlessness on the big stage. When we needed a bucket, he was the guy. Defensively, he was giving up his body. He got hit in his nose. That thing is broken in like three places. He got cracked in that thing a couple times tonight.

But he and Chris, that partnership, when you need a bucket and you're able to give it to guys like that, it's pretty cool. Book has seen a lot. Last year in the bubble I talked to him and I talked to the team about all the stuff that he's been through and having a lot of people say things about you when they really don't know how hard you're working and how much you care. I think the world saw tonight how much he cares, the way he plays. He gives it up on every single play. That's all you can ask from a player.

Q. The beginning of this season most people didn't think that you guys would be here headed to the NBA Finals. Did you?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I'm going to hold on to that because there's been some really cool stuff that's happened on our team. But I may have been the only one that thought that we could or was crazy enough to challenge the team with that. But something pretty cool happened earlier this year.

To answer your question, I didn't know we would be here, but that's what we were working for behind the scenes. I'm not one to make predictions or anything like that, but when you have Chris and Book and then you add Jae and the leadership and the growth of our team, and everything that Robert [Sarver] has given us, you thought, if things go our way, we could have a shot at competing. I certainly didn't know we were going to get here, but I was crazy enough to think about it for sure, because I think that's what everybody plays for and you only get, if you're blessed, you get one shot sometimes. I've been in an organization in San Antonio where they got a number of shots. I didn't. I couldn't paint it this way, but I certainly thought about it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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