July 10, 2021
Q. I know you had to take a pass on going to Tokyo, but I wanted to ask you, that first trip when you played there your rookie year in the Worlds, was that meaningful to you looking back? You have a lot of friendships, it seems like, with guys on that team. Did they form there and just make you want to keep going back and doing this again with those guys?
CHRIS PAUL: Are you talking about 2006?
Q. Yes, sir.
CHRIS PAUL: We lost.
Q. I remember.
CHRIS PAUL: We lost. That was a hard trip. We went to Seoul, I think. But that was a fun team, a lot of really good guys. Joe Johnson. Obviously Bron, Melo, D (Dwyane Wade). That's when we really got close.
I've been talking to Book a lot about his experience coming up. It's so cool to hear how excited he is about it, rightfully so, as he should be. There's not too many greater honors than representing your country. Hopefully we can handle business here and he can go get him a gold medal.
Q. Monty just said he hasn't delved too much into your team's success on the road this season, which is the league's best, but he did give some credit to you and how you set a tone. I'm just curious what you think in terms of doing well on the road. I mean, how much of it is in the arena, in the moment, handling a game? How much of it is work habits in between?
CHRIS PAUL: I feel like there's a lot of athletes out there that will tell you they like playing on the road. I love our home crowd, but I also love playing on the road. It's always been like that my whole career. When you go on the road it's just you and your guys, just you and the team, the people that travel with you. So you really got to stick together. And it's nice when you can silence a crowd. It's fun, it's entertaining. I think our team, we just had a right mindset for it.
Q. Throughout the season many of your teammates have been asked by people like us what you have taught them. So I'm going to flip that question around on you. What are the biggest things that you've learned from your teammates this year and specifically what's the biggest thing you've learned from Book this year?
CHRIS PAUL: Man, one thing about Book is he stays in kill mode all game long, no matter what's going on. If you're thinking you need to hold the ball with like 40-some seconds left and you might be up four, five, Book going to shoot it. He going to let it ride. That's just his mindset, which you got to appreciate.
I think from our team, it's just we have a very fun team, guys who try not to take themselves too serious. And I think that's what's really good about our team. One of the things we say before we run out on the court is -- you can be so serious and all that, we just say have fun. Have fun. And I think that's what keeps us focused, remembering that this is a game. We got to go out there and enjoy ourselves.
Q. The other night on NBA TV after Game 2, you and Isiah Thomas had this moment where he said he was honored to be compared to you. Considering the fact that there seems to be this generational divide between a lot of the older guys and some of the younger generation, does it mean something to have that type of respect and admiration from a previous generation?
CHRIS PAUL: It definitely means a lot. For me, not just playing in the league for a long time, I've always been a student of the game since I was a kid growing up with my dad watching Isiah. Obviously, I was the biggest Michael Jordan fan you could ever know. But also, my dad's two favorite players going growing up were Dr. J (Julius Erving) and Iceman (George Gervin). And my dad, in the two leagues that he played in, one league he wore No. 6 (Erving's number) and the other one he wore No. 44 (Gervin's number). So my appreciation for the game comes from my dad. He's the first one to ever put a ball in my hands and I'm grateful for it.
Q. Mikal was talking about some of the dinners you hosted at your house this year for teammates to watch games. One thing he noticed the year before were the TikToks with Shai (Gilgeous-Alexander) and Baze (Darius Bazley) and he realized just how cool you were to hang out with the younger guys. Is there anything you learned from your friendship with Shai and Bazley in OKC that you apply to forming the bonds you have with the young guys here in Phoenix?
CHRIS PAUL: Oh, man, that's a good question. Mikal is like a kid himself. But I think with Shai and Baze, they became my extended family, being at Oklahoma City a year without my family. Baze was closer in age to little Chris than he was to me. So him and Shai and Baze -- who I still talk to on a regular; I talk to Shai about every day -- they really keep you young. They keep you lighthearted. They keep you having fun.
And then getting here with our team in Phoenix, being away from my family once again, I was grateful that the guys would even come over and eat and kick it with me, you know? In a time where we're so secluded because of the pandemic, it was a really good chance for us to bond and have these guys try vegan food every now and then. They ain't always love that, but we did get a lot of time together.
Q. Obviously the Bucks treat tomorrow's game as the must-win game. And then when you do the pep talk in the locker room tomorrow, would you tell them to treat this like a normal game or it's like the biggest test of this whole season?
CHRIS PAUL: Yeah, you said it right there. For us, the biggest game of the year is tomorrow. Tomorrow. It's a must-win game for us. We got to come out with that mindset. Know that they're home, they're more comfortable, they will be in front of their fans. But we got to be us. We got to be us and we got to be the hungrier team, and so that's what we'll do.
Q. I was just talking to Brook Lopez and he had said the idea of defense to him is to you try to contain someone in a box. They're going to break out of that box, and then you try to contain them into a different box. For you as a point guard, what do you find enjoyable about breaking out of that box, like finding the things that you want when you know they want you to do certain things on certain plays?
CHRIS PAUL: Brook is smart. Very, very smart. I say this, just like we play Connect Four, just like you play Sorry, this is a game. This is game. Everybody is trying to figure out how to stop this guy or stop that guy, and usually some of the best people are the people that have counters. Everybody is always saying, Oh, that's all you got to do. We were just talking about it on the bus. Oh, you just got to do this. If it was that easy, everybody would.
So I think for us, it's all about making adjustments. That's why when you start out the game, you see how you're guarded. We're professionals so it's like, okay, let's do that. Let's counter with that. And that's the only reason that teams advance this far, being able to adjust and maneuver on the fly.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports