The Phoenix Suns will be bringing their decade-long playoff drought to an end next month.
But making the postseason for the first time in his career isn’t what Suns guard Devin Booker has his eyes set on.
“Keep winning basketball games,” he told ESPN’s Malika Andrews. “Focus on winning — not winning just to make the playoffs, not winning just to make it to the first round or second round. We’re trying to win it all.”
While national pundits debate whether point guard Chris Paul should be considered for the league’s MVP award, there’s no debating the impact the Point God has had in less than a year in Phoenix.
“[He’s] intense — the iron sharpens iron mentality,” Booker said of Paul. “Chris isn’t going to take a day off, he isn’t going to take a possession off. I’m inspired by him in so many different ways. This man just passed Magic Johnson on the all-time assist — all-time.”
“I remember we were talking at the beginning of the season and we were talking about the playoffs and Chris yelled out in the locker room, ’16 teams make the playoffs. That ain’t what we’re going for.’ Hearing his energy and his passion behind that statement, I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, we’re on the same page,’” Booker added.
Back to the Paul being in the NBA Most Valuable Player conversation:
“We’ll see, I think we have to win more games,” Booker said of Paul’s MVP chances. “It’s bigger than the numbers with Chris, too.
“People have to understand his effect isn’t just his points and his assists. It’s keeping people in line, leading every day. That alone should have him in the MVP conversation every single year.”
Speaking of a resilient work ethic and all-time talent, Booker’s relationship with the late Kobe Bryant has been pretty well documented. The Suns guard has a tattoo on his arm that reads “Be Legendary,” which he uses as personal motivation every day.
“Every single day,” Booker said of how much he thinks about Bryant. “I have goals. You know the steps it takes to get there and you can’t shortcut any of them.
“That was the thing with Kobe — on days you don’t feel like you have it, I look on my arm and I see it tatted on me. I’m like, ‘Well it’s time to get it today. I don’t care how you feel Book, you have to be legendary today.’”
The former Kentucky Wildcat also uses that mantra in his everyday life off the court as well. In fact, Booker has donated over $2.5 million to local Phoenix charities over the last five years.
“I wanted to come up with something that would stick forever in Phoenix,” he said.
“We came up with the Devin Booker Starting Five Initiative to help kids in need and give them the tools for success that they might not have access to and implement basketball-inspired programs because I know how important the game is to me and how much it could change a life for somebody.”