Who is Eric Gordon (and what ties does he have to Arizona)?
Jul 3, 2023, 8:00 PM | Updated: Jul 5, 2023, 9:27 am
(Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
Many Valley fans remember new Phoenix Suns guard Eric Gordon as one who got away.
Those who were fans of the team in 2012 – that was a time before they were good again or had drafted Devin Booker, by the way – may remember that Gordon was almost a member of the Suns.
A year earlier, the Suns had lost Steve Nash to
father time the Los Angeles Lakers, and were hoping to avoid becoming cellar dwellers for the next decade or so.
Everyone knows the Suns were only beginning the worst stretch of season results in franchise history, but things may have been different if Gordon and the Suns were able to connect 11 years ago.
Unfortunately, the four-year deal worth $58 million Gordon signed with the team in 2012 was matched by the then-New Orleans Hornets. Gordon was a restricted free agent. As a result, Gordon was often referred to as the only veteran who wanted to play for the Suns until Chris Paul arrived nearly a decade later.
But Gordon put the pressure on the Hornets to not match the offer and gave love to the Suns and their fanbase that would not be seen for quite a while.
“I strongly feel they (Suns) are the right franchise for me. Phoenix is just where my heart is now,” Gordon said in 2012.
He’s the one that got away in Illinois, too
But Gordon is not just remembered as the one that got away in Phoenix, but in Illinois as well.
This time, the story goes back to 2007 when Gordon was choosing where to play his college ball.
He grew up in Indiana and was a basketball legend in high school. He led North Central High School to a state title game and was given the Mr. Basketball award by the IndyStar in 2007.
But he committed to play his college basketball for the Illinois Fighting Illini.
Until he didn’t.
He switched his commitment to Indiana and in his one-year college career, he was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and an All-American.
In 2008, he was selected as the No. 7 overall pick in the NBA draft.
But those in Illinois sure remembered he spurned them.
Speaking to the IndyStar in 2014, Gordon’s father Eric Sr. said his family was subject to taunts and were pelted with ice when Indiana played in Illinois.
“It was just really kind of silly,” Eric Sr. said to the IndyStar. “I like the competitive nature of the game, and I like the competitive atmosphere, but I think some of it was just borderline insanity, and I don’t think that’s good for competitive sports.”
Another Arizona connection
When Eric Gordon Jr. suits up for the Suns this fall, he won’t be the first member of his family to play for an Arizona-based basketball team.
His younger brother, Evan, played one season for the Arizona State Sun Devils – you guessed it – in 2012-13.
Technically, he was a member of the ASU basketball program in 2011-12 but he was redshirted that year after transferring from Liberty.
Eric’s little brother was the starting point guard on that team, which went 22-13, narrowly missing out on an NCAA Tournament bid. The Sun Devils lost in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 Tournament to UCLA but were invited to the 2013 NIT where they defeated Detroit in the first round before losing in the second round to Baylor.
Evan Gordon transferred to Indiana the next season. According to his LinkedIn page, he is currently the Founder & President of EG3 Basketball Academy in Shantou, Guangdong, China.