July 16, 2021
Q. Chris, you told us about your hand in the Western Conference Finals. Has the partially torn ligaments affected you at all during the NBA Finals?
CHRIS PAUL: No, I'm good. Good.
Q. I know your head is not in this place. We were talking to Book about Team USA, what is going on with the program. Out of left field, they're hurting for bodies right now. You chose not to do it. Is this maybe a thing where your phone could ring and that gets revisited, or is that decision pretty final?
CHRIS PAUL: Yeah, my phone rings all the time (smiling). No, I'm not focused on that. I'm focused on obviously what we have going on. I hope those guys are healthy and well. But we got to handle this first and foremost.
Q. With Willie (Green), obviously he's about to make that thing happen. What is the emotions for you knowing that now he is there and this is going to happen?
CHRIS PAUL: What are you talking about?
Q. The Pelicans job.
CHRIS PAUL: What?
Q. What do you mean, What?
CHRIS PAUL: There's been an announcement?
Q. No, it hasn't been announced.
CHRIS PAUL: I don't know then.
Q. You're going to play like that?
CHRIS PAUL: I'm hoping, I'm hoping for him. Not until it's finalized.
Q. The turnover thing is just something that you don't do. How in the past have you gotten out of even an experience like that, getting back to normal?
CHRIS PAUL: Usually just playing, just playing. It's something I don't dwell on. Even though it may be an anomaly, it happens. I turned the ball over hella times before.
End of the day, we got to win the game. Me turning the ball over is not giving us enough shots at the basket. I'll figure it out.
Q. What have the emotions of the last 24 hours been for you? As the vocal leader of this team, what are you saying during this time?
CHRIS PAUL: Not much. Just understanding we did what we were supposed to do, they did what they were supposed to do. Now we are coming back home, we got to protect home court.
I hate it, but it's that simple. We didn't sweep but one series, so this is what happens in a series. That's why they make it seven games. This is the Finals. It's dramatic. We got to protect home court and win the game tomorrow.
Q. This late in the season, this deep into this series, is there an adjustment left to be made on the board or are you focused on mentally preparing? What do you do this late in the process before a Game 5 like this?
CHRIS PAUL: Do everything you always do: get your body work, tissue work, watch film, get ready for the next game. Not a lot of adjustments, but always there's something that you can do better. If it's boxing out, rotations, if it's shooting. Just sort of what we do all season long. But the game doesn't change. Same thing.
Q. Given what you went through on the COVID front, I wonder how closely are you watching what's happening in the world again? We have an uptick. Team USA stuff. Is there part of you, with this special opportunity in front of you guys, of just getting it over the finish line without another hiccup?
CHRIS PAUL: I pay close attention to it. I have family just like everybody else. My parents, traveling to Milwaukee, coming to this game. My kids. L.A. just put a new mandate in where you wear a mask inside. My family is there.
I pay attention to it just like everybody else. Try to control what I can control. Stay in the moment with the Finals, but health is a huge concern not just for my family but for everybody.
Q. Have the restrictions for you guys been the same even in the last week or any --
CHRIS PAUL: Restrictions on us have been all season. That ain't pretty much changed. Told y'all all I've seen here in Phoenix is the arena and the practice facility.
Q. Watching what Book did going from the tough shooting night in Game 3 to having the performance he did in Game 4, what did you observe from him in that in-between time where he locks right back in?
CHRIS PAUL: I wish I had a better answer for you. But it's nothing (smiling). Nothing.
Book been scoring the ball, playing for a long time. So if it was a tough shooting night, Game 3, like I said, that's an anomaly. So you don't really think much about it. You're like, Oh, we got another game? Okay.
It wasn't much. I ain't say nothing to him. You just go out there and play.
Q. He's talked so much about during the playoffs that these are the games that he's been waiting to play in, waiting his whole career for. Do you sense that in him? Is that an unspoken thing? How do you see that?
CHRIS PAUL: Unspoken. All season long Book has sort of had that mindset. You can tell. You can see it. When he struggled with his teams for so long, you don't have this many televised games, you don't have games where the fans are cheering and rooting against you.
He has prepared for these moment, hell, since he probably was in high school or college. Now you just get a chance to seize it.
Q. LeBron said recently he's paying close attention to the Finals because he has a horse in the race named Chris Paul. Obviously, he's been to the Finals so many times. How much contact have you been in during this time?
CHRIS PAUL: We talk. I got a number of guys that I talk to. Bron, I was there with him in the Finals when he played against the Spurs. We're always shooting texts here and there, whether it's him, whether it's Melo, D-Wade. That's what you do with friends.
Q. Anything any of them have said to you during this time that has really resonated to you?
CHRIS PAUL: Good luck, go win it (laughter). It's not that dramatic, I'm telling you. I promise you, it's not.
Q. How do you compare how you handled losses or tough performances earlier in your career to now?
CHRIS PAUL: I don't know. In this league when you play long enough -- I feel like I done played at least for a little while -- you have to have a short memory. You can't dwell on it, win or lose. If you win by 20, if you lose by 20, you start back over 0-0. You go from there. That's sort of always been the mindset.
Q. You mentioned how you guys have had to deal with the protocols all season. This is the deepest you've gone into the playoffs in your career. How much of the tiredness is mental? How much it is physical at this point? How do you deal with that with possibly three games left?
CHRIS PAUL: None of it actually. When you prepare for something like this -- hell, when I lost in the playoffs with the Clippers, I would keep training and working out just 'cause, just for these moments.
When this does happen, you're excited for it. I think "tired" is the last thing, mentally or physically, because what else do you play for?
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports