EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Cam Johnson fulfills bet with lemonade stand for hundreds of Suns fans

Feb 28, 2022, 7:55 PM | Updated: 8:42 pm

PHOENIX — Monday afternoon for Phoenix Suns forward Cam Johnson had lined up to be fairly straightforward.

The 25-year-old and the Suns would be hosting a lemonade stand in central Phoenix at a park to fulfill a bet he made with teammate Mikal Bridges.

Johnson, a diehard Cincinnati Bengals fan, saw his squad fall to Bridges’ Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LVI.

The two, who call each other their twin, were able to go to the game together. Bridges made sure to ridicule Johnson and remind him to get his stand ready once the final result was set.

The bet, made on ESPN’s NBA Today with Malika Andrews the week of the game, was set in stone. The loser would have to wear the winning team’s jersey before the Suns’ next game and for every Game 1 of a playoff series.

Bridges, however, had to speak up when Andrews was reviewing the final terms and suggested the loser has to run a lemonade stand.

That little joke by Bridges inspired Monday afternoon, evolving into an event that well over 2,000 people showed up for and a good chunk of them were served lemonade and cookies by Johnson himself.

“What a wonderful idea by Mikal, right?” Johnson quipped after spending over two hours serving his customers.

The cookies sold for a dollar while lemonade courtesy of Flower Child was two and extra donations were welcomed, with the total of $5,000 in proceeds from the day will be going to Phoenix Suns Charities.

To go back to how simple this day appeared to be at the start, Johnson’s expectations were quite low in terms of the potential turnout for the stand that was supposed to run from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

“You know we’ll be there for an hour, maybe we’ll get like 60-100 people, a person a minute will show up,” he said. “People catch wind of it, maybe a couple more.

“Then I got a text at like 2 o’clock like, ‘There’s 300 people outside.’ And then I was like, ‘Oh man, this is adding up quick.’ So it was quite an undertaking, quite an experience. Didn’t know what to expect but it’s a big honor to be out in the community.”

Here’s a look at the line a half-hour before the stand opened for business, one that kept growing in size and didn’t get smaller until an hour in.

About 15 minutes in, it became clear that the time it took to let everyone get an autograph and picture along with their beverage and/or snack was going to have Johnson there into the night. A change upped the pace of the line a bit, with Johnson still kindly signing things and taking pictures even after fans were told that wasn’t going to be a thing anymore for the sake of Johnson’s time.

He received the support of his teammates. Bridges and Frank Kaminsky showed up to see the opening ceremonies. Bridges, the winner of the bet, aided Johnson in his offerings to fans for an hour as any good friend would.

Kaminsky wisely hung around to show love for just a bit, finding a tree to stand underneath to blend in and not get mobbed like Chris Paul or Cam Payne.

“When CP pulled up, it was all the hooting and hollering over there, and I had thought a fight had started,” Johnson said of Paul’s arrival. “So I was like, ‘Oh no. Not here.’ And then I hear, ‘CP! CP!’ And of course, CP rolling through is like the president rolling through. Everybody went crazy.”

Paul wanted to see what this stand was all about. He asked if the cookies were vegan (ha!) before choosing just lemonade, clarifying with Johnson that he didn’t need a picture.

That area you see fans surrounding was where two-way wing Ish Wainright signed autographs and took pictures for just about everyone who wanted one, something Bridges and Payne did as well. While the crowd ran toward where Bridges, Payne and Paul were exiting, Wainright was able to just walk over to his car and head out without any interruption, a job well done on his end to get those autographs and pictures taken care of.

Johnson, a third-year forward, didn’t even get through his full rookie year before the COVID-19 pandemic began. That, as you can imagine, has made it more challenging to go through the normal channels players do in order to connect with the community and city.

Johnson was thankful for the opportunity to do that on Monday.

“Just for lemonade, it means a lot to me,” he said. “I loved playing in this city since the moment I got here. I’ve loved living here and these people are a big reason why.”

And this wasn’t just about paying off a bet.

As mentioned previously, those proceeds go straight to Phoenix Suns Charities.

“That’s what it’s all about, that’s what it’s all about,” Johnson said of that. “And this is a community, we’re here. I hope these people do understand that all this money that they have donated, where some of them made very, very generous donations, that it’s going to get pumped right back into the community. Just keep giving kids and people opportunities that they need.”

But when it comes to the bet, Johnson confirmed that Bridges signed off on the deed being done.

“When he left, he was like, ‘Good luck, you fulfilled your end of the job,'” Johnson said of Bridges.

Johnson, however, stuck around for those two-plus hours until the stand was dry and sold out.

Well, if anything, no one can doubt he’s a man of his word, right?

“No one can,” Johnson said with a smile. “I stuck it out, I stuck it out.”

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