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July 6, 2021

Monty Williams

Phoenix Suns

Game 1: Pregame

Q. Talk about Nate [McMillan] getting the deal in Atlanta.

MONTY WILLIAMS: I was happy for him. He and I talked so much before he took the job in Atlanta and being a head coach again wasn't even on his agenda. So, to see him it in that position and the success that they had under his leadership -- I mean, I care so much about Nate, he's done so much for my career and I'm just happy for he and Michelle.

He loves the game and he has so much respect for the position and he wouldn't just take a job; there would have to be some things in place for him to do it. Obviously, it's there. So, I'm happy that he's at peace with that.

Q. Did you pick his brain much about Milwaukee?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I didn't want to bother him. He offered help, but I know the emotions that you have in a series and to me it just felt a bit disrespectful, as soon as they get eliminated I'm on the phone like, you know what I mean? (Laughter). You know, it's like, holy smokes, you know what I'm saying?

I did not want to do that to him, even though he offered it. I'm sure if there was any tidbits or he sees me doing something I shouldn't do, he'll call me. He's never been shy about telling me what I need to do (laughing).

Q. You've mentioned Milwaukee's offensive rebounding a couple of times before the series, how switching can get wonky. What's the key for you in terms of just preventing that with how like you could have Chris on Lopez on some possessions and just looks like that where they create so many extra chances?

MONTY WILLIAMS: Yeah, we tried our best to gang rebound. We felt like we have been tested with the Lakers, the Clippers, Denver had JaMychal Green, who was just a problem for us on the offensive glass. Jokic. And so we felt like we have been prepared for this. At the same time it seems like they have guys that know the shot's not coming their way and so they go. And you have to recognize that. So, your integrity of your defense has to be there, but then you got to box out as soon as you see the shot go up, because they're going.

Q. I saw you rock that hat all playoffs long. I'm sure the folks in Phoenix saw it during the regular season as well. Can you explain the message and then the origin of how you actually got the hat made?

MONTY WILLIAMS: Yeah, I mean, it's, one, I just wear this [sweatshirt] a lot and it matches. So, there's not really much else to it but it's something that we adopted as a team as one of our goofy sayings early in the year. It's from Ben Franklin, "Well done is better than well said." We talk a lot as coaches, at the same time we want our guys to hoop and play and be doers. That's -- production on the floor but also being a good teammate, respecting the game and we feel like it served us well. There are times where the guys forget because they see the greater than sign and they will remember like, oh, yeah, that's right. And they all have the same hats. So I kind of know that they just threw them in the back of their closets when I gave it to them, because they forgot what it meant.

But most of our guys have adopted it and it served us well.

Q. Did you go on Etsy to make it?

MONTY WILLIAMS: No, Nicole Swanigan who works with us, she like does everything. I'll call her with an idea and she will get with Dean [Stoyer] and the creative people will come up with a hat or a T-shirt or a hoodie that we try to pass around to the team. The guys tell me that they've kept all the stuff and from time to time I'll see them or somebody in their family with the hat on. So, that part's been pretty cool that they care enough to keep all the goofy stuff that I've given out over two years.

Q. To build on that, how would you say like what are some of the distinguishable characteristics of the culture that you've tried to implement here, and what was the buy-in like last year and this year?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I mean, the buy-in and commitment was there from day one. I always refer to my first meeting with Book, he looked me in the eyes and said, Coach, whatever you need me to do, I'll do it. And it was things that we felt like were attainable - respecting time, compete, defend, share the ball, and then the last one was gratitude. The first four were pretty clear, but gratitude is something that we feel like gets lost in the NBA. We have always told our guys this, is a get-to, not a got-to. We get to be in the league.

I still get excited when I have a bag with new stuff in my locker, you know. I've just been around long enough to know that this is not a right for me to be in this position, it's a privilege and we try to share that with the guys and they feel the same way. We all come from different backgrounds and somebody else could be in this position, and so the gratitude part is just something we all try to think about from time to time.

Q. You told us after Game 6 in Los Angeles that you were kind of a wreck for a short amount of time before that game, really emotional. How are you today kind of going into this? And then along those lines, Chris Paul's waited his entire NBA career to get to this point, what do you expect from him on this stage?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I think the emotions come from the work that goes into it, the decisions that you make in your life to get to this point are things that people do for you to help you get to this point. This week I really haven't had time to reflect on it at all, just kind of been waiting to get back on the floor.

That moment that I had in the locker room with Randy, Randy Ayers has been with me from day one in New Orleans and we were just talking about our journey together. And then he just started telling me how he felt about me and that kind of thing. So, that kind of brought some emotions.

I think just my desire, I want it badly, and I want to -- I know I've been blessed a lot to be in this position. And I never want to lose sight of that. So, sometimes it's overwhelming when I think about how blessed I've been to be able to do what I do for a living.

Q. In coming to the Finals a lot of people are going to learn a team's story. What can you say about James Jones and the job he's done that a lot of people probably don't know much about him at this point?

MONTY WILLIAMS: Yeah, I mean James just has no ego. I don't think there's ever been a time where he and I talked on the phone after a good game or a bad game where he's like, hey, we need to do this or that. It's never been that. It's always been a commitment to our program and at the same time he and I think differently. So, when we have our quiet moments, he's not afraid to say, you know, this is what we did in this situation in Miami or Cleveland, and it's always at the right time. He has people skills that I don't have. He knows how to manage certain situations and I've learned a ton from him in that regard in watching him lead the organization in a different way than I would. And that has is really impacted me.

Q. Also, what do you remember when you when he first called you about Chris? And when did you think it could be a reality?

MONTY WILLIAMS: Yeah, I mean, when he called me, I didn't understand the numbers and what it would take. So, it was just like something to talk about. Obviously I was excited, but I didn't know how it would work. So, then when it started to get close, it was one of those deals where I was like, holy smokes, like this could be really good. At the same time, I had feelings for Ricky [Rubio], Kelly [Oubre] and Ty [Jerome]. They helped us get the program rolling. But I also knew that having Chris was going to change things in the way that could allow for us to be in this position, just because of who he is and my experience with him before. He certainly helped me look better as a coach than I would have had I not had him in New Orleans. I'm just grateful that he's with us.

Q. What's impressed you most about Deandre's growth on the defensive end?

MONTY WILLIAMS: His communication. There's been a number of times, there was a number of times last year where the languages and the vocabulary was different for him. This year, having continuity he's picked it up and he kind of knows what it is we're going to say in meetings and when we put stuff on the floor, he already knows what we're doing. That's impressive, especially for a young big.

And then his ability to cover up a lot of mistakes. Certainly the defensive rebounding. He's the guy for us when it comes to that environment. So defensively he's just the force and energy that he plays with every possession, for sure, there's a number of things that we're grateful for that he brings to the table on the defensive side of the ball.

Q. You've won Game 1 of each of your playoff series so far. Have you noticed a common thread in all three of those games? I know it's different opponents but maybe something that you feel like can help tonight to get off to a good start as well?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I haven't. I just -- we have a style of basketball that we like to play, that's been the thing that you hope for. Certainly being at home helps, but we told our guys this morning, we messaged the whole building to go hoop. We have been talking for a few days now, now it's time to hoop and we don't want to lose sight of how we play and how we got here.

Q. In the two regular seasons matchups Deandre guarded Giannis a bunch. If he does go tonight, do you expect to see that matchup, and how much of a challenge does that put on a defense when your center's got to kind of guard a wing?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I think you'll see multiple guys on Giannis, if he does play. We're prepared for either situation. Most teams have tried to guard him with a bigger guy, but when you look at the game, you'll see 6-6, 6-7 guys also guarding Giannis. No one's been able to stop him, but you don't want to give him everything. But he's a decorated, All-World player. So, we know it's going to take our team defense to try to nullify what he does effectively.

Q. You mentioned having two plans if he plays or if he doesn't. How drastically different is a game plan?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I mean, it's not like the guys that are playing when he's out don't play. So, two plans is probably overstating it a bit. You just, when certain guys come into the game, your coverages change anyway. That's a normal NBA progression. So, we just have to know what we're in when they make subs or if they start a different lineup, we just have to know that. But I don't think that's any different than any NBA game.

Q. I know you reflect on Chris a lot but whenever we talk about the New Orleans chapter and then this chapter I feel like everybody to an extent acts like it's the same relationship back then, and then he picked it up now and some of the stories that comeback from the earlier days, Chris was younger, he was tough, he was, you guys had your competitiveness and maybe some friction at times. I mean, what was different about that chapter between the two of you compared to now?

MONTY WILLIAMS: (Laughing) I mean, I think we both were unbelievably headstrong and competitive and I was probably more "my way or the highway." He wasn't. It was really me. And I referred to getting in his way a lot. Back then that was the deal. Mine was probably a lot of insecurity, trying to show what I knew and prove it as opposed to just coaching. And that probably ruffled feathers, not just his but a number of the players remarked to me that that was the case.

And after you've had some life experiences and listened to people about their evaluations of you, especially people that you respect, you have no choice but to change and I've learned I would rather be effective over right. I hope this time around there's a level of growth there that exhibits that. Especially with my relationship with him.

Q. How important is it to start the game with urgency to try to protect the home court?

MONTY WILLIAMS: It's been a pillar for us throughout the series. There's something that we want to do is get off to a good start with the effort and the energy and the focus and hopefully that leads to production offensively and defensively. But we learned that in Game 5 versus the Clippers, that when we don't start with the effort and the juice, we put ourselves in a tough spot. So, I don't think that's going to be the case in The Finals.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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