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July 5, 2021

Jae Crowder

Phoenix Suns

Media Day

Q. Jae, you're obviously one of the leaders on this team, and many of the guys have spoken throughout the year about the voice you have in the locker room. When did you first learn how powerful your voice can be, and how did you learn the right way to be that vocal leader?

JAE CROWDER: Just everything comes naturally when it comes to leading, I feel like, in an NBA locker room. It just came naturally. Probably my Boston days, I was thrown into that role of being a leader, and my leadership comes natural by just putting in the work and letting my work speak for itself first before I even say a word.

I just think it came naturally back in my Boston days, like four or five years into the NBA, and it just comes from the heart. It comes from wanting the best for my teammates and wanting to compete as a team at the highest level and put myself and my teammates in a position to do so. So, that's what it comes from.

Q. I know you guys had two really close games against this team in the regular season, and you had that big rebounding game. Were those moments -- I don't know how much film you looked at, but were those two games growth moments as far as tough playoff atmosphere games with a young team where you saw steps forward?

JAE CROWDER: Yeah, I definitely remember the road trip we took to Milwaukee, and that was a tough road trip for our team, but we prevailed, and we came out with a winning record. I definitely feel like those situations have prepared us for moments in this postseason, no doubt about it.

We were playing some tough teams, and obviously Milwaukee was one of the best Eastern Conference teams at the time, and we came out with a win on the road and in a tough environment. Those situations definitely motivated us as a team to come together and definitely know we can play high-level basketball either at home or on the road. So definitely gave us motivation and momentum.

Q. With you playing Milwaukee this series, people are going to ask about your Marquette days. In your two seasons at Marquette, playing with those scrappy teams, defensive teams, and all the talented teammates you had, what about those two years prepared you for going on a decade now in the NBA?

JAE CROWDER: Just probably being -- I learned how to work when I was at Marquette. I learned how to put work into the game of basketball. Two years there, I thought I was working up until I got to Marquette, and that's when I really found out how to really work when I step into the gym, learn how to make the days count. I think that rolled over into my professional career, and I know how to put work in when no one's looking, and I think it's definitely beneficial for me to take what I learned in college and implement that into my NBA career, and that's what I did.

I just put the work in and locked myself in the gym like I used to back in my college days and let the hard work take care of itself. I think my Marquette days definitely taught me how to work, and it will always be a special place for me. I feel like I'm going home. I feel like I'm playing a series in one of my hometowns. So, it's a great feeling.

Q. That took some of my questions about Marquette as well, but not just about the school, but the city of Milwaukee, what are some of the memories you have through the years when you were in Wisconsin?

JAE CROWDER: Well, I miss them. Great people in Milwaukee. I hold great relationships with a few people in Milwaukee to this day. Like I said, it's a special place to me. I did a lot of stuff within the city. I've been to Brewers games. I've been to Bucks games back when I was in college, and I've been to Green Bay Packers games. So, I was a fan by default, and I did my part when I was in the city of Milwaukee of just embracing the love that I was getting throughout the city and that I get every time I touch the court there in Milwaukee as a professional. It's always love.

That place will always be special for me and my family, and the relationships that I share with the people still who live there will always be there. So, it was very special to me.

Q. Doing a story on Cameron Payne and just kind of seeing how his journey has grown from when he was in the bubble last year until now. What have you seen from just his attitude and approach for someone who had to grind to get to this point now and being in the NBA Finals for him. One, what has he meant to this team, and two, what do you see in his journey that stands out for how hard he's worked to get to this point?

JAE CROWDER: Cam, the one thing that sticks out to me now is that he gets it. His whole mentality, his mindset is he gets it. He gets how to be a pro. He understands it now, now that he was in and out and now is back in, he understands what it takes to be a professional athlete, especially an NBA player. He understands to put the work in. He understands all of that stuff that he went through was a test, and he's answered the bell repeatedly up until this point to get to where he is today.

It's no coincidence that he's fought back to be an NBA basketball player playing in the Finals. And what he means to our team, he does a great job of, first of all, talking to and having a relationship with Chris, with him being his backup and him trying to have a great career like Chris. He does a great job of just taking in all the stuff that Chris gives him, all the stuff that I give him, all the stuff that Coach Monty gives him and applies it on the court.

We do a good job of helping him, but he does a great job of just applying it. That's all him. That's all him putting the work in and wanting the best for himself and wanting best for our team. He's special to our team, and he's a great weapon to have.

Q. What do you think about how Devin and Deandre have started each round of the playoffs?

JAE CROWDER: I think they started the way I expected them to -- just locked in, locked in on our opponent, locked in on our game plan, leading by example and verbally to our group, reading the defense, just reading the game they're playing. They have done a great job of just being who they are, but at the same time, trying to mold themselves into whatever that series or that team is forcing us to be as a team, as individuals, and I think it's not a surprise to me that they've come out and performed the way they've performed the first few rounds.

I'm happy for them. I'm not surprised at all. They put a lot of work into it. They're doing exactly what they're supposed to do. We've got to do the same thing again tomorrow.

Q. You're the only guy with NBA Finals experience in this series. What does that mean for you? And how beneficial for your team is this situation?

JAE CROWDER: I'm very grateful for the opportunity, but I'm looking for a different outcome than I had last time honestly. That's all fine that I've been here before, but I haven't won anything. So, it really doesn't mean anything to me personally. But I use my last stint as motivation to get back here to have a chance to play for it all again, to work my way to be in this position. Hopefully it's a different result, and that's my motivation in it all.

It's great to be here again and be a part of a special team, but I want to get the job done this time.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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