All Eric Bledsoe is looking for is a clean slate.
A do-over from last year’s 59-loss Phoenix Suns‘ disaster, some luck with his rehabilitated knee, an opportunity to improve his game and a chance to bond on and off the court with his teammates wouldn’t hurt either.
Through the first half of the summer there has been no “off-season” for the talented Bledsoe who, some believe, is trying to silence the whispers of his rumored unhappiness in Phoenix and concerns over his injury-prone knees.
So far he’s passed every test.
“Eric Bledsoe’s been the leader,” Suns head coach Earl Watson told Sports360AZ.com in a recent phone interview. “This is my second summer here in Phoenix. He’s been [in the gym] every day throughout the summer.”
Watson said when the 26-year-old isn’t refining his skills at Talking Stick Resort Arena he’s working out on his own in hopes of coming back faster, stronger and healthier than last fall. Bledsoe has “lost a lot of weight” and is “toned up” according to Watson.
“To see him grow as a young father, as a young man in our community is to me the greatest gift we can have in return as coaches and teachers,” Watson thoughtfully explained. “He’s great. The smile is big…he is extremely excited. He’s ready to play.”
Bled love the kids! Thanks for having me at the camp. pic.twitter.com/lsSeE2S1Nq
— Eric Bledsoe (@EBled2) June 28, 2016
“He’s been unbelievable,” Suns general manager Ryan McDonough explained to Sports360AZ.com. “Not just good but unbelievable after the season ended in terms of organizing our group to come down to Phoenix and workout.”
He also organized a weekend public bike ride in downtown Phoenix which he self-promoted on social media. Some believed it was hoax but sure enough, there was Bledsoe on his bike at 6AM outside of the arena socializing with his two-wheeled crew.
Bledsoe’s most recent act of selflessness was “footing the bill” on a recent trip to San Diego for some of his younger teammates so they could train as a group. The collective bargaining agreement does not allow the financial flexibility for teams in the off-season so Bledsoe opened his wallet for the good of the team.
“I think it’s easy to say the right things sometimes and talk the game,” McDonough said. “But it’s another thing to open your wallet or get out your checkbook for these young guys…’I’m gunna take care of them. It’s important for me to lead this team…I’m going to make that kind of commitment.'”
That kind of commitment is going over well on Planet Orange.