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June 30, 2021

Chris Paul

Phoenix Suns

Game 6: Postgame

Phoenix Suns 130, LA Clippers 103

Q. Such a long hard road for you to get to this point. What did it feel like to you in the third and fourth quarter when you were making all of those moments happen and you were at the peak of your powers on that floor and getting closer to that moment?

CHRIS PAUL: I don't even know right now. I just remember we were up 17. I came out of the game, I looked up and we were up like five or seven. You just always know these closeout games are tough. I watch every game every night and you just always see the Clippers, they make a run. Third quarter, fourth quarter, they just get it going. Seemed like that was happening.

Q. The T-shirt. To raise the Western Conference trophy. You spoke to Rachel about it, but was that a culmination of things that you thought about in idle moments for years and years?

CHRIS PAUL: Man, it's been a lot. I'm telling you. I told you I was getting an MRI yesterday on my wrist, and had all these surgeries over the years. Tone, the equipment guy in Houston, I remember we were up 3-2. I didn't get to play those last two games in Houston. Tone had the T-shirt and hat, and I never got a chance to get it. I never forget that. Never forget that.

Jay [Gaspar], our equipment guy here, texted me a couple days ago and said, C, I got the T-shirt and the hat. All you got to do is do your part. So that's the only thing that I was thinking about, is the process. This is just getting us one step closer to where we're going to be.

Q. I think there was a point you scored 24 of the 30 points when you guys went up big. What was it like tonight being in that mode? Jae was saying that he kept telling you, are you tasting victory and you were like, no, no and you stayed in that locked in. What was that like?

CHRIS PAUL: Yeah, man, I had a lot of experiences, a lot of ups and downs. We were up like five minutes left Jae said, C, can you taste it? Can you feel it? I go, whoa. He was saying some stuff and I was like, no, no, no. I was like no, I'm going to stay locked in. I'm going to stay locked in. And it just felt good.

I mean, like Book plays with an edge and I'm the same way. Over the years you know people talk junk to me and a lot of times I usually say something back, but I done changed a little. A little. A little. And I just kept thinking, if we do what we're supposed to do, I get the last laugh. So you stay the course long enough, you break 'em, and that's what we did.

Q. That's what Jae just said, that you guys knew then when he pushed you that they were broke.

CHRIS PAUL: Yeah. Yeah. It hurt. It stings. It stings [laughter].

Q. We all saw the emotions pouring out of you after the game. Can you describe to us what was going through your head at that time?

CHRIS PAUL: I was just happy and proud of our team. Monty not winning Coach of the Year, but we know who he is. Hell, man, I experienced COVID. Just a week ago, I was here at home. Couldn't be there with my teammates. That's what you call next man up. They won two games in this series without me, and it just shows you how crazy it is. First series got the nerve thing. Win the second series, end up with COVID. It's been a lot and I want it not just for myself but for everybody in that locker room.

Q. When you returned you said you would save the Clippers talk for after the series. So what was it like to go up against your former team?

CHRIS PAUL: It's crazy, because Jasen Powell, their head trainer over there, is my family. We usually talk all the time and we ain't talked this whole series. Chauncey is my family. Like my brother, my brother. And we ain't talked this whole series. I'm so happy for him getting a head coaching job, because me and him talked about it during the quarantine, about what his next thing was going to be. And when he said he was going to be a coach, I was like you're going to be the best coach there is, because when we played together here, we used to be in our lockers right next to each other drawing up plays. So it's been hard not to tell him congratulations.

It's a lot of ties. Dennis Rogers who was with me for -- y'all know, y'all know. D Rog, that's my family, you know what I mean? So when you get to the arena for a game like this and you walk past and don't even speak, these people who mean a lot to me. And so to be in a series against them, to get to this is special.

Q. Could you talk about how you evolved into a player who keeps his composure. Because during this series you had, I don't know if I would call them bouts with DeMarcus --

CHRIS PAUL: Oh that's wolfing, it ain't nothing. Ain't nothing [laughter].

Q. How do you keep your composure and not respond back like that?

CHRIS PAUL: Those who do, do. You can do it, you do it. I think I've just been on the other end of so many losses. I know what that feels like. Before the game, me and Jae were talking about it, we put the work in. If you put the work in, then you live with the outcome. So we worked. We're a work team. Past two, three games I've been playing with my fingers buddy taped, these two. I did shootaround today. I said, I ain't doing that, I ain't doing that tonight. Book said he wasn't playing with his mask on either. So it was good to see it all come together.

Q. I saw you pointing up to the suite. I see the hat on. First question is, just how many of your family, I assume that's for the hometown --

CHRIS PAUL: Oh, yeah.

Q. Talk about the hat.

CHRIS PAUL: Yeah, Winston-Salem, that's me born and raised. Like I always say, all these years, like we still got a ways to go, we still got four wins, but all these years I had my hometown and my family right there with me. So like I said, it ain't just for me. I asked Jay, I got an extra hat and a T-shirt so I can take it to my brother. My brother, my whole career he didn't miss one playoff game I ever played in, home or away. So any time you win something like that, it's for my brother always.

Q. I saw your dad once crying talking about y'all's relationship.

CHRIS PAUL: Yeah, everybody got relationships. My pops is -- that's my dad.

Q. Talk about your relationship between you and your brother, what it means to you.

CHRIS PAUL: Yeah, because it's just us. It's just us. I ain't got no sisters, nothing like that. It's just me and my brother. And my brother been with me since day one -- like literally, literally. And everybody knows my brother. The referees know my brother. Everybody knows my brother. Because he's there, you know? Like some people be there, but my brother is THERE, and he's always there. He tells me what I don't want to hear and he just -- I mean, I love him to death.

Q. Can you reveal that you did send plays through him while you were out?

CHRIS PAUL: That I texted my brother?

Q. Yeah.

CHRIS PAUL: No, no, no. My brother knows the game on his own. He was telling Jae his own stuff. You talking about when I had COVID?

Q. Yeah.

CHRIS PAUL: Yeah, I was texting the guys that work in the back. My brother is saying his own stuff. He know the game. My brother know the game.

Q. You talked earlier this year about conversations with Willie Green where he asked you (inaudible) and you said you didn't know what you might have learned. To be out there tonight when you got Clippers fans waiting around, chanting your name and the way that it's a little bit of a Hollywood script the way that this thing went.

CHRIS PAUL: You got to know like I told you, Billy Crystal and his wife, the Hernandez family, Iger, I played six years here and a lot of these fans became my family. So Willie, he talked to me about AI all the time. AI is obviously a hero of mine, and texts me after every game. AI texts me after every game. So Willie just said, you know, if I could do it all over again, would I have left? And I said, yeah, because I learned a lot of stuff along the way. This is like a storybook for this part, getting to somewhere that I've never been before, going against a team that I will always be connected to.

Q. I know you want to win more than anything. That drives you as a basketball player. But as some of this stuff has happened over the years, the thumb in the jersey, the hamstring --

CHRIS PAUL: Houston. I can run them off to you.

Q. COVID a week ago, the shoulder. Has it ever in your mind been that this might not happen?

CHRIS PAUL: No. No. I ain't built like that. It's just get to work. Get to work. What was it Game 3, I find out I tore some ligaments in my hand. I said oh, here we go. But you just -- I got an unbelievable team around me. A lady named Anne, you've probably seen her. I hugged her when I walked off the court. She's been at every road game, home game, working on me just trying to get me right for every game. So I'm appreciative to my team around me. My chef, all this. It's a gang. It's a real live gang that puts it all together.

Q. Does it hit you differently, having gone through all that stuff?

CHRIS PAUL: Yeah, yeah, just because it's a lot. It's a lot. A big thanks to Sam Presti for even allowing all this to happen. I think back to my first conversations with Book, with James Jones, all the stuff that had to happen in order for us to get here, right? It's just parts of the process.

Q. Monty was saying that from when he was first coaching he made some adjustments that were leadership style, how to pick your spots and when to get on guys, when to be nurturing. How do you approach that?

CHRIS PAUL: Experience. Just leadership, experience. Like when they made that run, some years ago I would have jumped up and been yelling over there on the bench and whatnot. So I just stayed over there on sideline and was like, okay, you know it's cool because you learn how to deal with different guys and if you go crazy like that, that might make them a little bit nervous or gun shy. But I'm grateful for all of the experiences, good or bad, and just going to keep enjoying the process.

Q. I did want to ask about the two of you, that workout you did that first night the day you were traded. Monty Williams has said that he tried to kind of tell you guys how to play with each other and that pretty quickly he was like, I just need to get out of the way. What do you remember about both of those nights or both of those experiences?

CHRIS PAUL: The trade happened on a Monday and that Tuesday morning I flew in. We had a gym and Johnny, our trainer, worked us out. Then I had to leave and go shoot some State Farm commercials (laughter). Yeah. Like it was all in one day.

I don't know. It's been cool, man, because you think about it, like that first and second week of the season, Coach met with us and said we had the worst starting five in the league. Remember that? We had the worst starting five in the league plus/minus. Me and Book, we talked about and throughout the season we figured it out.

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