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May 29, 2023

Michael Porter

Denver, Colorado

Denver Nuggets

Practice Day

Q. Mike, in this week since you guys clinched until Game 1, have you been able to reflect on what you guys have accomplished, or are you just trying to keep your head down and not think about it?

MICHAEL PORTER JR: I think really just keep our head down and stay focused. Took a couple days of rest and just watched these games. Know we could play either team. But no, just keeping our head down and staying focused until we get this ring.

Q. Do you ever take time to reflect on this journey, given everything you've gone through with your back and everything?

MICHAEL PORTER JR: Yeah, definitely try to take time to reflect and be grateful. I've been journaling, things like that. I try to do gratefulness journaling and just reflect during this journey on all the things there are to be grateful for, but at the same time just stay hungry, keep working, never let up. At the same time, you've got to take moments to reflect, I think. That makes it worth it.

Q. I know you've started the game planning process for both of these teams. From your perspective, what is the biggest difference between these two teams and how you would approach either matchup?

MICHAEL PORTER JR: I think they're both really good teams in their unique ways. Boston is obviously very talented all the way through their whole roster. Got a lot of guys who can play. So you can't really take any of their guys lightly because they all are hoopers.

Miami is just very gritty. I think both teams are scoring around 20 points off of other teams' turnovers. We're emphasizing taking care of the ball and things like that. But they both present a unique set of challenges. We'll see tonight who we play. Neither team is a rollover. Obviously they're both very good teams, so looking forward to seeing who we play tonight.

Q. How do you think coach Mike Malone has helped you navigate this journey in the Playoffs, and has he been any different than he was in the regular season, or is he just kind of steady in the same way?

MICHAEL PORTER JR: I think just the same as he's always been. I think all our guys are really doing the same things we always have. We just have everyone healthy at this point. I think that's really the big difference between now and previous years, is just health. But no one has changed who they are during the playoffs. No one has tried to do things they haven't done all year. I think really that's the key, was just all of us being healthy and being able to play as a group.

Q. What are you most proud of personally in terms of how your game has grown this season?

MICHAEL PORTER JR: I mean, I don't know. I wouldn't really say the word is like "proud of." I don't really look at myself like I've really made humongous leaps in any area. I still have a long ways to go.

I appreciate when people say that, but I definitely have a long way to go and a long way that I know that I can reach. I wouldn't really say that I look at anything from the past year and am excited about it. I just keep trying to get better every day.

Q. Where do you think you guys as a team have improved the most throughout the Playoffs, if you guys have at all, just from Game 1 of the Playoffs to right now?

MICHAEL PORTER JR: I think we've been pretty consistent as a team throughout the entire Playoffs. Every team we've played has been a little bit different: Minnesota, then Phoenix, then L.A.

The game plan has been a little different, where guys are getting their shots. But as a team, as a group, we've stayed pretty consistent and together through this whole thing. That's not going to change.

Q. We know you have a wide network of friends throughout the NBA, guys you keep in touch with regularly. Has anybody hit you or anybody offered any advice throughout this break, or have you been in touch with anybody leading into the Finals?

MICHAEL PORTER JR: Yeah, I mean, Trae, me and Trae Young have talked a lot. He's jealous since I'm in the Finals and he's only made the Eastern Conference Finals. We were talking about that in L.A.. He came to our last game in L.A.

And then Brandon Roy, my coach from high school, yeah, he called me the other day and he pretty much was just criticizing everything that I was doing. I think he's jealous, too, because he never made it to the Finals.

But those two dudes.

B-Roy still gives me lots of advice. He was my coach in high school, so he sees kind of how my game has evolved since my injuries and things. He gives me great advice as a good mentor to me. But I would say those two have been the ones that have been in touch the most.

Q. What's been the toughest part about this long wait, whether physically, mentally? And what did you make of that last play in the Celtics game and Derrick White's buzzer beater?

MICHAEL PORTER JR: It's definitely been a long wait. It seems like we haven't played a game in forever. So we've just been trying to stay in shape, stay in the gym and just wait and see who we play. We thought we would have known a while ago, but the Celtics, they're making history right now. They're being very resilient. I'm very excited to see how tonight's game goes.

But we're not really hoping for either team because they're both great teams. We've just got to see what happens.

That shot, that was one of the craziest endings to a game I've seen. Jimmy Butler getting fouled on that three and then Derrick White hitting that buzzer beater.

Yeah, the Celtics are feeling really good about themselves, so it'll be interesting about tonight. We know both of those teams play with extreme confidence. It's just going to be a fun Finals either way.

Q. You were saying in November about how this was going to be a process with your game and it's just going to be a gradual process to get to where you are right now. When did you feel like yourself and how have you managed the back, and how do you keep managing it to make sure it stays like where it is today?

MICHAEL PORTER JR: Yeah, it's definitely -- it's still a process because I still -- I'm able to play and contribute, which is the things that I said earlier I got to be grateful for. But I still feel like there's a lot of boxes I can still tick, growth I can still achieve, just in rehab in general and feeling better. But I've definitely made strides throughout the year. During the entire year I was kind of almost -- I was rehabbing simultaneously and like playing.

I feel good at this point. There are some things that I'm doing different this time around to try to just keep my back in check and everything. But like someone said earlier, it could get taken away from anybody any day, so really just trying to stay in the moment and take it day by day and do my work every day and leave the rest up to God, for real.

Q. You mentioned how long it's felt since you've played a game. Does that kind of cause you to have a more intense mindset in practice, just trying to at all simulate what it's like to play a playoff game?

MICHAEL PORTER JR: Yeah, I think you definitely have to do that with this eight- or nine-day break, try to just find ways to make yourself go harder than a normal practice, just to make sure you're kind of in shape. Trying to create game shots in the flow of practice, normal pace, game pace. Then I've been doing different conditioning things just to try to stay in shape.

It's a little different when you're not playing games every other day to try to stay in basketball shape, but we should be good. We've been practicing pretty hard, things like that.

Q. You're a great offensive player just like Carmelo Anthony used to be here for the Nuggets. What do you think about his legacy with Denver, and did you study his game as a kid growing up?

MICHAEL PORTER JR: Yeah, I'm a big fan of Melo. He was one of my favorite players growing up, and we've actually developed a relationship off the court. When I was in New York for that little stretch we had against Brooklyn and the Knicks, we ran into each other and just chopped it up. He told me come kick it with him in the offseason, come out there and work out with him for a little while. So that's definitely something I might do.

Yeah, I'm a big fan of his and his legacy. That's definitely one of the guys I looked up to growing up, for sure.

Q. I wonder specifically about Christian Braun. He seems to be a guy that embraces his role even if it's two minutes here or there. What do you think of his approach and how he's handled his rookie year?

MICHAEL PORTER JR: Yeah, he's handling it as well as any rookie could. He's already a valuable piece of this team and he's just a rookie. I told him, you can't trip about playing a lot some games and -- it doesn't matter how good you are as a rookie on a good team; it's hard to get minutes.

He already has a very good foundation as a player on this team, so going forward he's obviously a big part of this team. He knows that to be able to play as a rookie in the Playoffs, guard some of the best players in the world, is pretty dope. He just brings a winning culture. They won in Kansas.

I knew Christian growing up. He played with my little brother. So it's really good to have him on the team.

Q. You talked about coach Brandon Roy. I wonder if you could talk about Seattle and its impact on your journey and where you are today.

MICHAEL PORTER JR: Seattle definitely had a big impact. I feel like growing up in Missouri and then moving out to Seattle and being around all those pros and getting coached by Brandon Roy, that was when I really took my game to the next level. He helped me just get better every day and eventually become the best player in the country on the best team in the country.

That was his first year coaching, which is kind of crazy. I think he's won like four state championships since I left Seattle. He's just a good friend of mine to this day. He loves basketball. He's just a really good dude.

Seattle definitely has a big piece of my heart, and that was definitely a dope time in my life.

Q. Why do players love Sparky (Gonzales) so much?

MICHAEL PORTER JR: They don't. No, I'm playing.

I think he's the longest -- correct me if I'm wrong, he's been here the longest out of all the staff. He's pretty much been here the longest.

He's just the OG around here. He's just a goofy dude. He gives me encouragement before games, and we have our inside jokes. I'm pretty close with him out of all the staff and the whole organization. Me and Sparky are pretty close.

He's definitely just a big part of our team culture, always bringing the upbeat attitude. Even though he's an equipment manager, he doesn't have to be that joyful every day, but he brings that good energy to the Ball Arena, and we just love that dude. He's definitely a big part of what we've got going on here, for sure.

Q. I also want to ask about Calvin Booth. When he got appointed GM, what were your thoughts? And what kind of respect do you have for what he brought to the team this season?

MICHAEL PORTER JR: Calvin is my guy, too. He's a real chill dude, real laid-back dude, but he does what needs to get done on that side. We have a good relationship.

Obviously I think it's pretty well known now the guys he brought in are a huge part of the reason why we're in the Finals. Obviously KCP and Bruce being two of those guys. But really the vets, too, as much as the guys on the floor are contributing to us winning, like DJ, Jeff, Ish, Reggie. Those guys' attitude and their leadership is just part of the reason why we're doing so well.

It's really just finding a group of guys that mesh in the locker room is a big part of winning. I think Calvin did a great job of that.

Q. I can imagine how you've been inundated with messages from your friends and family and everyone else in between. What's the best message you've had over this period just to get you ready so you can stay present?

MICHAEL PORTER JR: I just think I would say my family, really. Just their encouragement. Them being at the games, wherever that is, L.A., Phoenix. They've been flying to the games to watch me play. We've got a family group chat. That's always the first thing I check after games, see what they were saying during the game.

Yeah, I think just having a family like that, seven brothers and sisters, I'm really lucky in that area. So I'd say my family, for sure.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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