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NBA FINALS: BUCKS VS. SUNS


July 10, 2021


Jae Crowder


Phoenix Suns

Practice Day


Q. What does it mean coming back to Milwaukee and how well do you still know people?

JAE CROWDER: It feels great to come back here. Obviously, I know some workers here, same people that came from the Bradley Center, working behind the scenes, great to see familiar faces, great to be here. Obviously the school [Marquette] is next door. So, it always feels great to come back to a familiar place that I spent significant time in. It's great to be here.

Q. Is your daughter's friend still FaceTiming you?

JAE CROWDER: She's texting now. It's crazy. I cut the face time out and now they are sending a lot of text messages. I'm trying to hold it together.

Q. You didn't crack down?

JAE CROWDER: I let them send a text.

Q. I know you get asked about CP a lot but I've been picking guys brains about the idea that a guy that's 36 years old comes to a new group, even beyond the hoop, connecting with 21-year-olds, 22-year-olds and choosing to be a leader beyond let me get my body right and just play well, what have you seen there and what kind of moments come to mind as far as how he's brought the group together like that?

JAE CROWDER: He's helped me out with that, too. I've helped him out. He's helped me out. It is tougher when you've been in the league such a long time and you have guys who are fresh to relate to them. That's a balance. He's done a great job of balancing it all. He's done a great job of showing how to work. I think doing it by example first is how you get a younger player's attention, and then from there they are going to ask questions and he's done a great job of just being that library for all of our young players, our team in tough situations, he's been a voice that we can depend on and listen to.

So, he's done a great job of just finding the balance. It's not an easy thing, like you said, 36, to connect with a 21-year-old, 22-year-old, but he's done it. He has their full attention, and our young players do a good job of taking it in whenever he speaks.

Q. Mikal mentioned invites to Chris' house to watch games. Any moments like that come to mind for you?

JAE CROWDER: We do that all the time. I think that's part of team bonding. He does a great job of opening his doors to his house. If not his house, he's going to make somebody open the doors to theirs and he's going to invite the whole team.

He gets it. He gets that part of the competition of it. It's well beyond before we step on the court, the bond that we share and have to compete, especially at this level.

Q. On that note, Deandre was praising you as being a helpful voice through the season. What's been your feedback to him and how have you seen him grow?

JAE CROWDER: No one's held -- I can't say no one, but No. 1 pick, you rarely get held accountable. I want to be that guy to hold him accountable. I want him to hold me accountable. We're playing alongside each other a lot of minutes.

So, I wanted to be -- I wanted to first get his trust. It took a while. He's the No. 1 pick. He might walk around. He has that entitlement but I know a little bit how to win and I just wanted to tell him that. I'm not ever talking down on you.

Same with you; I take criticism the right way. I think you have to find a way to take criticism, and once that clicked, everything else started to roll. He did a great job of just buying into the team, and from that point on, it was easy.

Q. What was the turning point for you? Where do you think it clicked for him?

JAE CROWDER: I would say probably a month or two left in the regular season. He just started to talk more, started to be more demanding of what he needs out of us because it was always the other way around. It was always us telling DA we need you to do, this we need to you do this; then he gets it. I need to you do this, I need you to do this. About a month before the regular season ended and then the dominos started to fall and by the postseason we were ready to go.

Q. I know you played at Marquette. Frank [Kaminsky] played at Wisconsin, he had his Frank the Tank t-shirt on coming off the plane. Off the court, are the guys like leaning on you for recommendations for food, take-out? What's it like coming back here?

JAE CROWDER: I've already set all that stuff up. You won't see us in the city. We're going to get a lot of stuff catered to us from a variety of restaurants here. A couple of us are vegan. I've talked to the training staff more than my teammates about food because we're not leaving the hotel. We're eating in. We're locked in. But I do have a few suggestions for my teammates that we're going to take advantage of while we're here.

Q. How many friends and family do you have coming to the game and anybody from this area that you knew that are coming to support you tomorrow?

JAE CROWDER: I have a few tickets I want to give to some supporters I have here in the town. I think I have like 10 people. I tried to keep mine very condensed. I've got a lot of people mad at me but it's just how I'm geared and how I like to operate especially at this time of the year. Iíve shaved my number down dramatically. So I'm at like 10 tickets right now.

Q. We keep on hearing about how wild this crowd is going to be, but you guys know a thing or two about wild crowds. How much are you looking forward to having a hostile environment on this stage?

JAE CROWDER: I mean, we're prepared for this moment. I think all year we've been talking about trying to come together on the road and get our road presence in a sense. I just feel like you just can't turn it on right now in this moment. You have to prepare yourself for this and I think we've done a great job of talking and preparing ourselves for moments like we're going to face the next few days. It's the Finals. You expect a tough crowd, especially when you're on the road, it's playing for it all, so we're prepared for it. We know we have to be together, do everything collectively and we're aware of it, and I'm looking forward to the task.

Q. I know it took a bit of time early in the season for Book and Chris to get used to playing with one another, especially as two relatively ball-dominant guards, but when did you see it start to click for them out there where they started to get more comfortable with one another and how has that chemistry filtered through the rest of the team?

JAE CROWDER: Yeah, we are all going through it. We might be winning games but we were having games where we felt like we could have played better, especially early, we felt things aren't clicking. We're just winning by talent and it's not a good win. You want to try to figure it out and dominate.

I think we did a good job of trying to figure it out, talking to each other, like I said, once we have these meetings, whatever we're doing, get-togethers at each other's house, we're talking basketball, we're talking hoops. We may joke around a little bit but we're trying to figure some things out. I think that just goes to what we've been doing off the court. It helps translate on to the court and Chris and Book, they are next door neighbors. They live next door to each other. I'm sure they have more talks about just trying to figure it out on the court, and then its paid off.

I don't know the correct time of the year of when it started to click but I know by the time we got to I think that New York game at Madison Square Garden that you guys saw, we were clicking. Those two guys were clicking. That's my first time being out, and I was able to watch them, watch them orchestrate, watch them work, instead of being on the court with them and try to figure it out. I was just able to watch, and I think at that point, that's when I knew, like, okay, we figured it out a little attack of how to attack defenses with those two being the head of the snake.

Q. With Torrey's situation up in the air, you lost Dario early in the series, how do you feel you're equipped to deal with those injuries with what you have on the roster?

JAE CROWDER: We've been talking. Like I said we have saying, Next Man Up, we feel like we have enough in our locker room, no matter if one guy goes down, we hate that but we are all in it together. That's the message we sent to Dario is we have your back. We know it's a tough situation for you but we have your back and we're going to get this thing done for you collectively together.

I think same thing with Torrey. If he can go or can't go, we know -- he knows, we know, we've got to have his back and that's by picking up your level of play, someone else, Next Man up, gets minutes and you have to come in and affect the game. That's our approach all year.

Q. Are Chris and Devin actually next door neighbors?

JAE CROWDER: Yeah, they can walk to each other's house.

Q. Devin's hosting some of those teammate parties, too?

JAE CROWDER: Yes, sir. I don't know if I -- yeah, I can say that. You don't know where they live. I ain't giving an address. They are neighbors.

Q. You said you're locked in at the hotel and not going anywhere. Is that a change from previous rounds?

JAE CROWDER: This is the first. We're pretty locked in. We know what's ahead. We know what's at stake. Everyone is very serious about it. Not saying that we wasn't serious before but we feel like we can give a little more to just being more locked in and taking advantage of the moment and just being present and just trying to keep it -- you don't want to go outside of your comfort zone in a sense of just trying to get food and have to deal with food poisoning or whatnot. We are in enemy territory right now, not to say anything bad about Milwaukee, I love Milwaukee, but you never know. We wanted to take that out of anyone else's hand and be as locked in as possible and take care of our bodies and get ready.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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