Suns’ Cam Payne reflects on his turnaround over the last year

Jul 1, 2021, 9:00 PM | Updated: 9:06 pm

(Twitter photo / @Suns)...

(Twitter photo / @Suns)

(Twitter photo / @Suns)

Fresh off helping the Phoenix Suns clinch a berth to the NBA Finals for the first time in nearly three decades, backup point guard Cameron Payne is grateful to be in a position to help his team win a NBA championship.

“This ride is unbelievable,” Payne told 98.7 FM’s Burns & Gambo on Thursday.

“It’s a crazy journey that I’ve been on. A lot of ups and downs of a very advanced roller coaster ride that I could say. It’s just hard to put into words, because I didn’t think it will happen like this.”

Payne added his teammates made him a better player this season and helped him flip a switch.

“I felt like I was supposed to be here,” Payne said. “And I just turned into a different mode to just start working even harder, because I know I belong in the NBA. So I just went into a different mode to try to do whatever I can to be in the league and stay in the league.”

Before finding a role with Phoenix, Payne bounced around the league since getting drafted in 2015 and spent time with three different NBA teams.

He also went to the G-League on three separate occasions and played in the Chinese Basketball Association during the 2019-20 season.

Wednesday not only marked the night that the Suns would advance to the Finals, but also the one-year anniversary of Payne signing with Phoenix.

Payne’s mother was at Game 6 of the conference finals on Wednesday and witnessed the special moment when the Suns’ advanced to the NBA’s biggest stage.

“My mom just knows everything I’ve been through. She’s just so excited and happy that like, I’m finally getting the good side of recognition instead of it being negative. And she’s so proud, I love it,” Payne said.

The Phoenix guard also thanked head coach Monty Williams for contributing to his success this season and helping him find a role with the Suns.

“Coach Monty definitely made it a lot clearer for me, the game in the NBA,” Payne said. “And a lot of things that was going, but on the flip side of that, the things I’ve been through, and I just wanted to be back in league. And I knew it was going to come with sacrifices.”

Payne added he was upset Williams didn’t get the Coach of the Year award, saying Williams turned his career around.

“A lot of coaches you can’t really say they did that and coach Monty did,” Payne said.

In 16 playoff games for the Suns, Payne is averaging 10.1 points, 3.8 assists and 2.5 rebounds in 20.3 minutes of work.

The Suns will await the winner of the Atlanta Hawks vs. Milwaukee Bucks series, as Phoenix looks to win their first NBA title in team history.

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