Bledsoe: "Caron Has Been a Mentor to Me"

by Brad Faye

Caron Butler pauses for a brief moment.

He wants to make sure to properly articulate everything he wants to say. Already known as a savvy veteran, Butler begins to speak with an unambiguous sincerity in his voice.

“I’m happy for him,” he says with a genuine expression a proud older brother would have. “I’ve tried to be somewhat of a mentor to Eric [Bledsoe]. I’m proud of how hard he’s worked and what he is on the verge of accomplishing.

“The sky’s the limit for that kid.”

A heartfelt compliment of that magnitude isn’t often given in the NBA.

Not only does it speak volumes of Eric Bledsoe, it shows the type of player the Suns also received in Caron Butler.

Butler, a two-time All-Star, has witnessed the types of things Bledsoe is capable of over the past two seasons as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers. Butler says Bledsoe has an incredible work ethic, a desire to improve and is motivated to achieve more.

Perhaps even more impressive, Butler sees this as the tip of the iceberg for Bledsoe.

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“He’s an explosive, dynamic guard who has superstar written all over him,” Butler said about Bledsoe. “I think his tenure in Los Angeles playing behind guys like Chauncey Billups and, obviously, Chris Paul, it helped him out a lot. Him doing more than hold his own in practice, showing flashes throughout the duration of those two years made him a hot commodity. I think he’s going to come here and put everyone on notice.

“The second he arrived yesterday he was in the gym. That’s the attitude and approach he had all offseason.”

No matter what your career, having a mentor is something that can elevate you to an entirely new level of success. Not only can that someone be a beacon of light when times are challenging, they are a first-hand personification of what it truly means to be a professional.

Certainly, a mentor/mentee relationship is one of trust, respect and inspiration that all work in unison to foster growth. That means a mentor’s thoughts, words and actions are all distinctively aligned. Indeed, a mentor can do so much more than simply model exceptional abilities and attitudes.

In the NBA, for example, learning from a veteran can not only prolong one’s career, but enhance it.

For Eric Bledsoe, that person has been Caron Butler.

“I’ve really learned a lot from Caron [Butler],” Eric Bledsoe said confidently to “He is someone that always works hard, puts in the extra hours and is a great example of how to be a veteran and have a long career. I’ve always admired how he approaches the game on the court and the man he is off it.

“Having him in Phoenix with me is a blessing.”

Similarly, Butler doesn’t take his role as a big brother to Bledsoe lightly.

“It’s something I’ve always taken seriously,” Butler said with conviction. “It’s important to me. I’ve tried to set a good example of how to be a man, how to work hard and how to treat others. Eric [Bledsoe] is like a little brother to me.

“It’s been fun to watch him grow, and I think he’ll really flourish here.”