PHOENIX SUNS

Ish Wainright on Suns return, when NFL career was toast and Game 7

Aug 5, 2022, 11:45 AM

Ish Wainright #12 of the Phoenix Suns reacts after a teammate scored against the Los Angeles Lakers...

Ish Wainright #12 of the Phoenix Suns reacts after a teammate scored against the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2022 NBA Summer League at the Thomas & Mack Center on July 08, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)


Forward Ish Wainright on Thursday officially inked his contract to return to the Phoenix Suns, giving the team internal room for growth with more continuity on the backend of the roster.

It’s a big deal for the former basketball journeyman, who played for three German teams before impressing with the Toronto Raptors last summer, ultimately joining the Suns mid-year before his two-way contract was converted to a standard deal to make the active playoff roster.

“Perseverance. I had a lot of obstacles, I had a lot of doors closed in my life,” Wainright told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Friday morning. “Especially being able to play NBA. Guys are getting ready to travel overseas the next couple of days. I talk to those guys. They’re excited but also they’re like, ‘Man, I wish I could stay.’ You know?

“Just being able to stay in the states and play in front of millions of people in the United States and especially now on the Suns, it’s a dream come true.”

Wainright hit on a couple more topics on Bickley & Marotta, including how he feels the Suns have responded to their Game 7 loss and his brief pro football career.

Yes, he watched Game 7

How Phoenix either flushes its 123-90 loss to the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference Semifinals or marinates in those shocking May memories — good or bad — will be among the early storylines as the 2022-23 season begins.

Wainright admitted that he personally hasn’t brushed the result aside.

“I’ve watched it, surprisingly I watched that,” he said. “But hey, it’s basketball and things happen, to be honest with you. Things happen. We have a bad game, everybody has a bad game. That was just the one game that stood out the most. We had a lot of bad games to (that point) but that one game happened to be the last game.

“I don’t think we’ll be over it until we step on the court as a team again. That will be our main focus for the beginning of the season.”

No, he did not feel good about his football career

Wainright’s journey after he left Baylor included a 2018 training camp with the NFL’s Buffalo Bills.

And while Wainright had a brief career at Baylor as a tight end, he knew his pro career wasn’t going to last, well, when the whistle blew following the first play of non-padded camp.

“I was supposed to cut off the D-end,” Wainright said. “But I ended up 15 yards down, opposite side (of the field). I was getting drug by my helmet. … I’m smacking him but he still has my helmet. He lets go, the whistle blows, I run back to the (huddle) … and I tell (quarterback) Josh Allen, ‘I don’t know if this is for me, bro. I don’t know. This dude just literally dragged me the wrong way.’

“He said, ‘Yeah, I seen it. I thought you were actually going out for the pass.’ … And after that, I was done. I was done with that.”

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Ish Wainright on Suns return, when NFL career was toast and Game 7