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July 7, 2021

Chris Paul

Phoenix Suns

Practice Day

Q. (Question about what he's looking for when trying to push the pace.)

CHRIS PAUL: We have a young, athletic team. So sometimes it may be DA running out ahead or Book or Mikal. We're just trying to get the ball up quick to see what we've got.

Q. Monty said that when you were first together he had a more my-way-or-the-highway attitude, and in the years since his coaching style has really evolved. Have you seen a giant change from when you first played for him to now and how would you describe that?

CHRIS PAUL: I think we've both changed. If you haven't changed in 10 years, then something is wrong. We've both seen a lot since then. It was his first time being a head coach. I was in New Orleans with a team that -- everybody knows that situation. We really didn't have an owner. There was a lot of stuff going on. I think experience teaches you a lot.

Q. What are the biggest ways you've changed over that period?

CHRIS PAUL: I'm probably not as athletic as I was then. (Laughter.) That year I actually had to play with a big knee brace on for most of the season. A lot. My game is totally different. I'm sure Coach didn't -- we didn't run the same offense. There are a lot of things that have changed.

Q. How are you better prepared to do this now, to play in the Finals now, than you were as a Thunder player or a Rocket or a Clipper or a Hornet?

CHRIS PAUL: I don't know. Our team is built a little different. We have a real team, like a team where you can't just key on one guy or two guys. Everybody on our team is capable of having a big game and everybody is comfortable and accepts their roles. Yeah, I think I'm prepared as far as my body, all the different types of stuff, you just -- and mentally. I might not have been able to receive this earlier in my career; who would know? But I'm grateful, like I said, for where we are right now.

Q. Do you say that this is a better team or the way this team is constructed is better than those other teams because you got to the Finals? Or if you guys hadn't even gotten here, would you feel that way?

CHRIS PAUL: No, I'm not saying that, because that 2007-08 team that I was on, with New Orleans, was one of the most special teams that I've ever been on. And as well as my first year in Houston. That was a team, too, that was really good. And even the year that I played with Mont, my last year in New Orleans, we made it to the playoffs, and that was a special team. You don't always win it on some of the best teams that you're on.

Q. When you talk about guys accepting roles with this team how early in the season did you see that?

CHRIS PAUL: I don't really know. I just think that stuff sort of just happens. Guys receive it when they want to. You start accepting things. Sometimes you win some close games and guys are like, oh okay. I think it just kind of evolves. Your team even changes during the playoffs. There's a shot or a rebound that happens.

I think Deandre Ayton, the way he's worked all season long, he took it to a whole 'nother level during the playoffs. And so it's just constantly changing.

Q. On Dario and getting the word that he's got the knee injury and Monty talked about it as well, said it breaks his heart, said it broke his heart getting that news?

CHRIS PAUL: Yeah, it's tough. I talked to Dario this morning when I got in, and just to hear it in his voice. He's a guy that's all about team, works his tail off day in and day out. He's one of us. That's our brother. So it's tough. It's tough.

Q. Talking to your big brother, he said growing up he felt like you always had the small guy complex, that you feel like you had to just work harder than everybody. I wonder, is that something you still carry to this day? Do you still feel like you got to do more than everybody else because of your size?

CHRIS PAUL: I think I just feel like I got to be me. I am who I am. I did grow up as a little brother, where all our friends were my brother's friends, and them telling me I couldn't do this, you can't do that. Draft night they say I was going to be too small and all this stuff. You just grind. It is what it is. It ain't about my complex or whatever that is. That's always who I've been, whether when I played football, whatever it was. It was, if you want something, you got to work for it. I think that's just the way I was brought up.

Q. A lot of discussion after Game 1 was the success you had in the pick-and-roll, especially in the third quarter. Are there adjustments you expect Milwaukee to make in Game 2 and how do you prepare with the idea that they might try to throw you a different look on defense?

CHRIS PAUL: I don't know. I didn't know what they were going to do last night. I think I said it last night after the game that there's only so many things that you can do out here on this court, you know? And so we just adjust. If they going to trap, they trap. They switch, they switch. But whatever it may be, all season long we have adjusted and prepared for whatever a team has thrown us.

Q. I don't know if it's something that's important to you or not -- actually I think it is, but why do you continue to wear HBCU clothing? Is it coincidental that you put that on today, or did you want to put that on today?

CHRIS PAUL: It's not coincidental. I'm enrolled at Winston-Salem State. I'm a student.

Q. What are you studying?

CHRIS PAUL: Studying communications.

Q. You have been one to, from the bubble, wear things on a daily basis. I'm curious as to how much, how many different schools do you have stuff from and why has it been important for you to wear that and promote HBCUs?

CHRIS PAUL: Because I have a class right now at North Carolina A&T, a class with Ms. Anita Elberse. And just champion the HBCUs. Just trying to make sure that they get that spotlight. Did an interview with Deion Sanders. Just trying to champion them the best way I can.

Q. You hear a lot of times veteran players say things like, if I had only known what I didn't know back then, but physically they're not able to do it. Do you feel kind of fortunate to be one of those few guys that not only has the wisdom but still has, I know you joked about your athleticism, but still has plenty of athletic ability to kind of do what you're doing at 36?

CHRIS PAUL: I know the work that I put in day in and day out -- summer, season, whatever it is. So I don't know. I don't think about being 36 when I step out on the court. I'm grateful for the team that have I around me, whether it's a chef, body work, trainers, all this different type stuff. It's a lot of commitment, a lot of days and stuff to make sure you get your body ready for the game. But when you're a competitor, it's nothing. It's just part of the routine.

I think Kobe said it some years ago, he said you just got to fall in love with it, the repetition of it. Some people might be like, oh, it's like Groundhog Day. Not me. Not me. Because I love to play and I want to play at a high level.

Q. You have shown the ability to lead in many different ways. This season of course had numerous challenges, including the inability at times to have bonding activities. So when you reflect on the time you've spent off the court with your teammates, specifically the younger guys and Deandre and maybe even Devin, how do you feel like you've gotten to this point where it feels like the trust is so strong and at an all-time high? What are the moments that you think about?

CHRIS PAUL: That's a good question, a really good question. Being here and in Phoenix a whole season, I ain't been to about two different places and that's the practice facility and the arena, with all the restrictions that we have. We haven't been able to go bowling, go do these different things that you would normally do as a team. So you have to build that time in practice and on the road, to build that trust in wins and on bus rides and plane rides. I think that's what our team has done a great job of, making sure that we come every day, come to practice to work, but at the same time making sure that we have fun and actually enjoy being around each other.

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