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July 7, 2021

Cam Johnson

Phoenix Suns

Practice Day

Q. Cam, what was the scouting report on Khris Middleton going into the series? He gets called underrated like all the time. I'm sure you don't think -- there's no underrating happening on your guys' end.


Q. What kind of scorer is he? How would you describe his ability to get a bucket?

CAM JOHNSON: I think everybody else, a lot of people might call him underrated, and maybe casual fans or somebody. But amongst the league and obviously in this series, he's definitely not underrated. He's a guy that can get a bucket and can get a bucket in a lot of ways.

So, obviously being aware of that, making it tough on him. Trying to get him out of his sweet spots. Trying to not let him get too comfortable, because he's a guy that when he gets comfortable and gets in a rhythm, he can really string them together and score in bunches. So, obviously limiting that is big for us.

Q. On the broadcast last night, I believe they said you're working on your masters and your thesis during these Finals. Is that something you're working on right now or do you put that on hold until after these two weeks?

CAM JOHNSON: Yeah, I am going to be completely candid with you: It's been on hold. It's been on hold for a while. I'm halfway through it. I have proposed it and I'm getting ready to do data collection, but I've been getting ready to do data collection for a while.

Life in the league, it's a little busy. And I will finish it, though. You know, my mom gets on me about it. My grandma gets on me about it. They are like, "When are you going to finish it? When are you going to finish it?"

I'm like, "Guys, I'll finish it."

Yeah it's definitely going to get done, but it is on hold right now. It's not like I finish the game and go home and open up my laptop and get to typing. But it's definitely something that I will go on record and say I'm going to finish it this offseason.

Q. That sounds like something most parents would say to like a kid who is finishing college. They will ask, "How is your day going?" And they will also ask you, "Hey, what about this schoolwork, though?"

CAM JOHNSON: Yep. It's just like that, "What about your thesis, though?"

I was going somewhere, maybe like two summers ago or last summer. So, it's the same thesis obviously from when I was in grad school at [North] Carolina. It's the same program, finishing that up. I remember I was going somewhere and my mom was like, "You shouldn't be going there. You haven't finished your thesis yet."

So, it's like I'm not allowed to go see my friends before I finish my homework or something like that. But I give my parents a ton of credit, my mom and dad a ton of credit, for staying on myself and my brothers academically. Making sure that was always emphasized and they never really let us slack off. My older brother set a really good role model. He was a really good role model for me academically. He was valedictorian of his high school class and a really successful student. So, it was always something for me to try to compete with and catch up to.

Q. A big point of emphasis with you guys is talking about poise with the coaching staff, especially because you guys are such a young team, a lot of you guys on your first playoff run, but it's one thing to talk about it and another thing to do it. When you come in here and look so composed in your first Finals game, what's your mindset as far as what you're trying to do to be so poised in that situation?

CAM JOHNSON: I've said this a couple times, but there's this sort of calm that comes over you before the game when you feel like you understand what we want to accomplish as a team. When you feel like you understand the scout, the other team's personnel, you go in and it doesn't feel as chaotic. You go in and feel like you know what you're supposed to be doing, and you feel like you know what your teammates are going to be doing. And I think we have done a great job of kind of being on the same page, and that goes a long way into showing that poise.

You know, at the end of the day, we're a team that's had each other's back all season, and so I feel like I understand my job. I know what my part is, and I feel like I can go out there and execute it comfortably and with poise.

Q. When did "preparation meets opportunity" become a mantra for this team, and how does that saying capture this Finals run?

CAM JOHNSON: It became a mantra for this team last year, I believe. I think it was one of those phrases that were thrown out and then the opportunities just kept getting bigger and bigger. You look at the bubble, that was a big-time opportunity for us, and I felt like we prepared as a whole unit for that and did what we set out to do.

But it just set us up for these opportunities and the opportunities we've had all regular season and the opportunities we've had all postseason.

At this point the preparation has to be at a higher level; the focus has to be at higher level; the poise has to be a higher level. But those are challenges that we're definitely willing to take on and try to overcome and win ourselves a championship.

Q. This has obviously been a journey to reach where you guys are now. When did you first realize that this group was special or different? Was there any moment or stretch during the season where you realized that this team had what it takes to reach this point?

CAM JOHNSON: Obviously, this is the only team I've been on so far in my career. But I've always felt -- I've always felt a really good vibe around our team, a really good vibe around our staff, a really good vibe around our players.

Sometimes going into the league, you can hear that it's a little bit tougher to get along with people. You know, it's a job. Everybody looks at it as a job. But I really feel like this is a real team, a real team with guys who have each other's back, who sacrifice for each other, and I felt that since I got here.

And you know in the experience we gained last year, some vets that we added this year, and it's been a pretty good recipe for us. And on top of that, I think we have a really good culture and we're a team that plays with a lot of grit and a lot of intensity, and those are things that have been serving us really well.

Q. Shaq was joking around with Devin last night about your shot and threes and he was kidding about putting a little money down to see who could shoot the best. How would you like your chances in a shoot-off against Devin? And two, the bad news with Dario, have you any words on that whatsoever?

CAM JOHNSON: First and foremost, you know, the Dario situation, it really broke my heart and all of our hearts to hear that. You know, any time a guy goes down, any time a guy goes down at any point with this, it's terrible, and then on top of it, it's the Finals. He's fought with us so long, and he's fought through a lot of things this year. To add that on, it's really hard on him.

Obviously I'm praying for him and our team is praying for him and we just really wish him the best and hope that he can get better as quick as possible. He's a big part of what we do, an awesome teammate and a guy that everybody loves, so I hate to hear that.

But the Devin thing, I always -- I'll put a lot of money on myself. He's a guy that any time we shoot together, it's really competitive. He brings out the best in me, obviously, and I love shooting with him. So, you know, any time, any time that's on the table, I'm ready for it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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