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July 7, 2021

Devin Booker

Phoenix Suns

Practice Day

Q. I see you got another throwback Suns shirt on. So just between that between the shirt you wore the other day just how are you getting these looks? Who is helping you get these it shirts?

DEVIN BOOKER: We're just finding them. You know what I'm saying? You go outside, you go down the street, all those tents set up, you go snag them up. I'm just paying my dues, honestly. This is a basketball town and these guys put in the work for the arena to be as loud as it was last night. So I appreciate everybody on this shirt for making this organization what it is.

Q. I remember after one of the Clippers games you and Chris were in the room at the same time and you were kind of lamenting or reminiscing about early in the season when Monty was like, we got the worst starting five in the league and we need to figure some things out. You said that you and Chris did sit down and talk about some things. Just what do you remember about those conversations and what you guys sort of did to figure it out? And how quickly do you feel like you figured it out to sort of launch what the season has become?

DEVIN BOOKER: We sat down -- it wasn't just me and Chris. It was the whole starting five. We were just really honest with each other. I always say we hang our hat on the defensive end, and that's where most of the conversation was. We obviously have to figure out chemistry on the offensive end and how we're going to move and what pace we're going to move at, but if we're not going to be scoring, the other team can't be scoring either.

And those conversations, all those bits and pieces, all those moments I think are why we're in the position we're in right now. But we still have to get the job done.

Q. Are you asking your dad about the guys on the shirts?

DEVIN BOOKER: I was just talking to Julie (Fie) about them, Julie has been here. Julie is with all these guys. But, no, I've watched. I've done my research.

Q. I'm just checking because the shirt looks a lot newer than what it should.

DEVIN BOOKER: I've done a lot of research. It was well kept. Well kept. Those are the ones you got to find.

Q. When did you start seeing that, not necessarily yourself, but other guys were starting to accept or embrace their roles. At what point in the season did you see that formulating?

DEVIN BOOKER: I talked about that East Coast road trip that we went on. I think that was a heavy-hitter lineup for us where I wouldn't say everybody found their role, but we came together more than ever at that time, and understanding that if we want to get done what we got to get done, that we're all going to have to sacrifice something. I think every great team has to do that.

Q. Monty has been praising you recently about when you guys first met when he got the job that you were telling him that you would be open to whatever he wants you to do. What do you recall about that meeting and what do you think Monty's overall impact has been on the group?

DEVIN BOOKER: Yeah, I think it was the day after he became the head coach. We went to dinner. We were just chopping it up and I just told him whatever it takes, you know? I've never had a problem with any coach I've ever had since grade school. So just let me know what I got to do. Let me know what I got to do better at, be honest with me and I'm going to go do that to the best of my ability.

I think that was the start of us forming this environment that we live in that we get better in every day now. Just having that relationship with Coach, the open dialogue, communication. Him understanding where we come from as players also helps that out a lot. And, yeah, that's what we live on, the energy in our gym, the culture that we're around. I think that's why we have continued to trend in the right direction as the year went on.

Q. You've talked about Kobe a lot and the impact he had on you. To steal a phrase from -- he had a documentary called Muse, where he talked about everything that shaped him. I just wonder from Kobe to the other folks who played a part in shaping your game, who was it for you when you figured out who you wanted to be as a player and the way you moved in the space, beyond Kobe who comes to mind?

DEVIN BOOKER: Rip Hamilton. I actually got the chance when I broke my nose to have a short conversation with him, and we have talked in the past. But that was my childhood hero. That whole team honestly. Even playing against the Clippers last series and Big Shot Billups sitting over there on the bench, that's some inspiration for me. Those moments there, even just by looking at Chauncey on the sideline, that's what locked me back in immediately. So there's tons of guys, honestly, but if we're talking one it's my Piston guys, for sure.

Q. You talked about this a little bit but demographically Phoenix has a large Latino population. I'm wondering what that's been like for you given your background, connecting with that side of your past? And then what are some of the ways you've explored that while you've been here?

DEVIN BOOKER: I'm around it every day. I always say I'm fortunate enough to live around it, see it around the stands and see it around the city. Growing up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, you don't get as much of it, besides the time that I spent with my grandpa and my mother, what she's passed down to us. But living around it and the culture and getting to see it day to day is a lot better. Being able to touch those type of communities in this area makes all this that much better.

Q. Congratulation on the NBA Cares award. When you announced the Starting Five at the start, what's it like now two years into it to seeing everything come to fruition and knowing the impact that's going to have beyond now?

DEVIN BOOKER: That's my favorite part. It's my favorite part. I don't care for much recognition or anything else that I do. I don't do it for the recognition, but I'm glad that the foundation is getting this type of light and this type of exposure because it means a lot. It means a lot to this community. It means a lot to my family. It means a lot to my brother, being on the board at Phoenix Suns Charities. It's what we get the most excited about.

So for us to win that award -- I wouldn't say for me to win it -- for Phoenix Suns Charities, for the whole foundation to win that award is really important to us.

Q. There's a tweet that was going around last night where it said you never scored 20 at Kentucky, you only had 10 shot attempts four times. You go from that to a guy who scores 70 in a game to now who is dropping 27 in the NBA Finals. Did it cause you any doubt back in college?

DEVIN BOOKER: No, I just know it was that Coach Calipari guy. (Laughing) No, what I said earlier, every great team has to have sacrifices. It might have happened once or twice, but a team that talented, that many guys, that many NBA guys in one practice gym, to even make it work as well as Coach Calipari did with the whole platooning system was incredible.

So we all had to buy in. We all had to sacrifice and just understanding our role. I mean, Karl Towns didn't leave the paint. He never left the paint. Coach Cal, I remember vividly practices where Karl would shoot a three and Coach Cal would lose his mind. And now he's a 40 percent 7-foot (three-point) shooter. So just understanding that, understanding and adjusting and what can I do to help this team win. That was my role there. I think I only ran like four pick-and-rolls my whole college career, but it got us in the position to get where we needed to go.

Q. Does that apply to the talent of this group?

DEVIN BOOKER: Yeah. Yeah. There's guys sacrificing. That's all of us. Everybody can play. Everybody's hoopers. Even the guys that aren't playing can play on any other team. And are still a big part of how we continue to grow, how we continue to get better. Those guys understanding the game and us all respecting each other to the amount to where people can come to you with open dialogue and let you know when you're not doing what you're supposed to do.

Q. Just looking at the logistics of things, if this series goes seven games, it ends on the (22nd). The first game for the Olympic team in Tokyo is on the 25th. Are you still planning on being on that team? You're on the roster and how the logistics of this going to work for you?

DEVIN BOOKER: Next thing smoking. I'll be there. I'll be there. But obviously not my main focus right now. I've reached out to Coach Pop, I reached out to Colangelo just recently and then I told them I saw all the guys reported to Vegas, and any other place I would rather be is the Finals, but I would love to be there with the guys and I'll be there soon.

Q. How important is the Olympics for you?

DEVIN BOOKER: Very important. Life goal of mine. I've always said, I think it's the most prestigious event that basketball can find. So to be a part of representing your country I think brings you to a whole 'nother stratosphere. Just thinking of the guys that have come before us and represented our country, and I don't think there's anything better than winning a gold medal.

Q. The same way you grew up looking up to Kobe and guys like Rip and modeled your game after them, do you see this next generation of kids kind of looking up to you in a way and is that something that you think about?

DEVIN BOOKER: I hope so. I obviously have a lot of work to do and hopefully a long career ahead of me, but that's what it's about, to be honest, is passing down to the next generation, inspiring the next generation. I always leave my idols that I reach out to and my really close friends, when they do something special I always leave them with "keep inspiring," because that's the most important thing to me. Rip Hamilton, Kobe Bryant and those guys have literally shaped and paved my whole entire life. I don't think without their mentality and their approach that I would be sitting in this chair right now.

So I know how important that is to the young kid in Mississippi or the young kid in South Florida or the young kid in China. I know how important that can be. I know what it's done for my life, so hopefully I can have those type of impacts on other people.

Q. Going back a little bit to your foundation and the league, Earl Watson used to tell me that he felt like they got the best player in that draft. I know personally having conversations with him he wanted to accelerate your curve, and you weren't getting the playing time initially that you ended up getting. What was that period like for you, those first couple of years with Earl, and what did it do for your game?

DEVIN BOOKER: Everything. I credit Earl (for) a lot. He was one of the early ones in the NBA industry to believe in me to that extent. I think it started with him being my player development (coach) before he was the head coach. So he watched the work that he put in with me. He was on the court with me, sweating with me, putting in the work with me and just coincidentally happened that he ended up being the head coach.

But he threw me in the fire. He gave me the chance to go out there and make mistakes and play through mistakes, which a lot of young players don't get the chance to do that in this league. So having a coach behind you like that, that believes in you to that degree, that gives you a confidence that you have never felt before.

And me and Earl's relationship is still here today like that. So I credit him for a lot, man. I'm just thinking back to all the times that we were out on the court together and we were playing real ones. I wasn't getting any playing time at the time, so we were getting after each other. And then the next year he's my head coach. So it was a quick turnaround, but that man believed in me to the fullest.

Q. With Dario can you speak to that injury, and what's the adjustment you feel like you guys can make or will make with him being out?

DEVIN BOOKER: It hurts. It hurt our whole group. Dario is our guy. He's our energy in the locker room that you guys don't get to see, but we love him and we are here with him. Obviously an unfortunate turn of events, but we're going to reach out to him, we're going to make sure he's mentally right and that he's in the right spirit and we're on the road to recovery. As far as the court goes, obviously we're going to be missing his presence and the things that he does out there, but everybody is going to have to give a little bit more.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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