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July 5, 2021

Cameron Payne

Phoenix Suns

Media Day

Q. Cam, congratulations on making it to the Finals. My co-worker caught up with your mom and Mikal's mom outside of the Staples Center following Game 6. I'm wondering if you have any thoughts on their reaction and if you could just describe what it's like to have that basketball mom and that familial vibe here in the organization.

CAMERON PAYNE: The first thing, it was crazy that they got my mom and Mikal's mom right after the game. That was the crazy thing. For my mom, I know she's seen what I've been through. She's seen everything I've done. So, she's just as excited and happy and feels so much for me because she knows what I've been through. She knows it ain't been an easy road. She's seen me cry on a hospital bed thinking it was over.

So just these little milestones, it's unbelievable. It's crazy. Almost like dreams, like a dream come true type of thing. So, I just know all her excitement, she's super happy, as crazed as me. So, she's happy. I know for Mikal's mom as well, Mikal has changed to a different player this season. He's been great on and off the court, one of my best guys here on the team. I just know they're super excited for the run.

Everybody counted us out, and the fact that we keep moving forward, all you can really do is just congratulate us. We're just keeping our head down and just saying locked in.

Q. Cam, this team has some great vocal leaders in guys like Jae and Chris, but it seems like the younger guys on this team have embraced the idea of speaking up to one another, being heard, and accepting what one another says. When did that first set in, that this was an open locker room where everyone could provide their input, and just how big of a difference has that made?

CAMERON PAYNE: Honestly, it started with Coach, but when C got here, C taught us a lot. So when he gets to talking, everybody feels like, you know, okay, everybody’s holding each other accountable. I think it's the accountability thing for us and the type of relationships we have with each other that if someone's messing up, 1 through 15 has the right to say something to you because we know each other off the court. So, no one ever takes it the wrong way.

Honestly, I feel like that's how we got here, accountability all the way down the line, being able to take criticism from your teammate. That's one of the biggest things of building a championship organization, a championship team, being able to take criticism from your co-workers, that's huge. It started with Coach. Coach has allowed players to have the floor sometimes before practices and just to see what's on our minds. The fact we can say stuff to our own teammates, it makes it much easier, and we just take it out there on the court.

Q. You mentioned this being a dream come true for you. I know it was about a year ago this time you signed a contract with Phoenix and getting ready for the bubble and everything. If you could tell yourself a year ago that you would be in the NBA Finals and adding onto this playoff run, could you imagine this a year ago when you signed with Phoenix?

CAMERON PAYNE: Absolutely not. To be honest, when I first signed, I just wanted to be able to get some time in the bubble and try to make someone's roster next -- this season, basically. I had a pretty good bubble run. I didn't think all this was going to come about, us making it to the Finals.

I kind of feel like we were going to be able to make the playoffs, but here? No, not even a little bit. It's a crazy roller coaster this thing here. Life's crazy. So I just put the work in, put the time in, prayed on it, everything, and I'm just going to keep on doing the same thing, and hopefully we can come in on top.

Q. Being from Memphis, obviously, that grind mentality, that attitude of, hey, we've got to get it done no matter what. How much has Memphis, that background that poured into you, how much did that keep you going knowing how unpredictable your journey was even now that you're in the Finals and trying to win a championship?

CAMERON PAYNE: Just being back at the crib, it's kind of like stage 1. A lot of people go to Miami, a lot of people go to LA to get workouts, work out with these different kind of guys, but sometimes you've got to go back home and try to get it raw, try to go back to the basics, try to go back to the beginning. That's what I did. I worked out with Coach [Raheem] Shabazz, he's a big-time guy down there in Memphis. I've been working out with him since I was middle school at Lausanne.

So I want back home, tried to get that back, get that Memphis "mmph" back in my game because I kind of veered away from it. So, I did a lot of time at the crib working out. That grit and grind, the Grizzlies had that same little saying, but it's really just a Memphis thing. We grind out for everything we get. There's a lot of players that done came through, and some people don't want to keep the grind going, but sometimes the grind keeps you on top of things, keeps you -- makes you want to keep going.

Everybody in my family, they've seen me play. They always want to see me play. So, for me, it kind of hurt to go back home, and everybody ask you, what you doing? Who you playing with next year? It would be questions like that, that kind of -- you're like, man, I ain't really trying to answer that question. Obviously, I'm trying to work out. Obviously, I'm trying to make a team.

So, it's a lot of things that come with working hard, and those are one of the pillars for me, people asking what you’re doing, who you going to play with next year, little things like that always in the back of my head when I'm working out because I never want to be back at the bottom, going to China and stuff like that. It's just built me a little different coming in on this next go round.

So just keep my head down, keep working, do it for the name on the back of my jersey and keep my head up. That's about it.

Q. You had that foot/ankle injury earlier in the season, and worked through it, and now you're here and healthy. Same thing for most of your teammates. I'm just wondering from a personal standpoint what it's been like working with the training staff and what you see from your teammates where you guys are at this point, last two teams standing and you're in a relatively good spot there.

CAMERON PAYNE: They did a hell of a job. I know our two trainers, they're big on making sure everyone is ready to play, making sure everyone gets the right treatment before practices. And also shoutout to Coach Monty for allowing the players stay healthy and not killing us on practice days even though we had a game the next day.

All of it comes together as one. He makes sure we stay ready. Trainers make sure we stay ready. Hopefully, we can stay healthy, knock on wood, stay healthy through the rest of this series and finish the season off right.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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