True to his word, Phoenix Suns PG Eric Bledsoe makes early return to Valley

Jun 30, 2015, 11:28 AM | Updated: 11:29 am
...

PHOENIX — It’s a Thursday afternoon in late June and Eric Bledsoe is in the gym.

That’s no surprise. He’s always working on his game.

But on this day, Bledsoe is helping others work on their game, a group of kids.

Again, not a surprise. He’s always been quick to give back.

No, the surprise is that Bledsoe is doing all of the above here, in Phoenix.

“I love it here. Phoenix is a great place,” he said.

That is quite the departure from this time one year ago, when the Phoenix Suns point guard was nowhere to be found, at least in the Valley.

Bledsoe had gone dark last summer as his representatives discussed — ad nauseam at times — a contract extension with the Suns, a deal that wasn’t reached until five days before training camp.

That is all now in the past.

Bledsoe is happy, the Suns are happy and together they hope to forge a long-term partnership, despite the ongoing, unsubstantiated trade rumors.

Last year Bledsoe held his first-ever basketball camp in his hometown of Birmingham, Ala., and will do so again in August.

The decision to organize one in Phoenix was easy.

“I just thought it was a perfect time for me to get something going and start building off of it,” he said. “I’m always the type of person that loves to give back. No matter if I’m home here or somewhere else, I’m always willing to give back.

“I’m excited about this camp here.”

The three-day camp brought both boys and girls of all skill levels to Inspire Courts for not only on-court instruction and drills, but valuable nutrition and life lessons.

“Just cherish the moment,” Bledsoe said he tells the kids. “You’re here and young. You never get these days back once they’re gone. Just cherish it and soak in as much as you can. Shoot for your dream.”

It’s not unlike the advice he received when he went to camps, though Bledsoe said he started going much later in his basketball development.

“I love this game, and I want to see young people get the opportunity I never got,” he said, “and that’s learning from one of the NBA players they look up to or just a player, period, that’s in a great position.”

Each kid received a Nike T-shirt that read, “Eric Bledsoe, Basketball Never Stops”.

“It’s unbelievable,” he said, smiling. “It’s something I kind of always dreamed about, helping the younger youth getting in a better situation than what I was coming up. I definitely want to thank the parents for bringing them out.”

Bledsoe, 25, told one parent the camp would be held again next summer; and there’s no reason to doubt him considering he was true to his word when he informed the media during exit interviews that he planned to be back in the Valley early to begin preparing for 2015-16.

Early, as it turned out, was June 1, just six weeks after the season ended.

“I’m just hungry,” he said. “I’m just willing to get better, and I think I’ve been doing a great job of getting better every season. This season I think I should take the next step, and I’m looking forward to doing that; and that’s why I’m here early, showing that I can be a leader.”

Penguin Air

Phoenix Suns

Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) shoots over New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14)...
Kevin Zimmerman

Deandre Ayton still Suns’ priority, says GM: ‘We want to keep it together’

Suns general manager James Jones said nothing has changed on the Deandre Ayton front over the past several weeks, from his seat at least.
1 day ago
General manager, James Jones of the Phoenix Suns before Game One of the Western Conference Second R...
Kellan Olson

GM James Jones clarifies ESPN article on Phoenix Suns’ draft strategy

Suns GM James Jones clarified an ESPN article that painted a detailed picture of the team's unorthodox practices in the NBA Draft.
1 day ago
NBA draft prospects pose for a photo with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, center, before the start of...
Kevin Zimmerman

NBA Draft live blog: Pistons deal for C Jalen Duren in trade-heavy night

Visit ArizonaSports.com for Phoenix Suns coverage as they stand pat without a draft pick or move into the Thursday action.
1 day ago
Tari Eason poses for photos on the red carpet during the 2022 NBA Draft at Barclays Center on June ...
Kevin Zimmerman

Paolo Banchero steals the show on 2022 NBA Draft red carpet

May all the green room invitees at the 2022 NBA Draft have as colorful of careers as they do draft-day getups.
1 day ago
Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner (42) shoots during the first half of Game 1 of the WNBA bask...
Nikash Nath

Suns’ Monty Williams: ‘It is time for (Brittney Griner) to come home’

Suns head coach Monty Williams on Thursday urged those to continue to keep pushing for Brittney Griner's safe return home.
2 days ago
Cameron Johnson #23 of the Phoenix Suns in the third quarter at Crypto.com Arena on April 06, 2022 ...
Kellan Olson

Cam Johnson ready for upcoming process, extension talks with Phoenix Suns

Phoenix Suns forward Cam Johnson discussed the contract extension he is eligible to receive this offseason and how he's approaching it.
2 days ago
True to his word, Phoenix Suns PG Eric Bledsoe makes early return to Valley