Sidelined Bledsoe Still Part of the Team
He was not in uniform. Far from it. A black, cumbersome brace consumed the majority of his left leg. But the sight of Eric Bledsoe, laughing and joking with his teammates who are carrying without him, was encouraging nonetheless.
Bledsoe's good spirits stem from two sources: his thirst to become an elite NBA player and the knowledge that he has overcome a similar injury before.
The latter nearly made the former a reality before Bledsoe went down again this season. The 6-1 guard was averaging 20.4 points, 6.1 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game before tearing the meniscus in his left knee in late December.
"He's having a great year and then you go down and you're missing the rest of the year," said Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek. "It's tough on him. I think a lot of times guys understand that it's sometimes part of the game. You're probably down and depressed that first week. Then as time goes on you start focusing on your rehab and focusing on getting back. It makes it a little better for him."
Bledsoe has wasted no time in progressing down that path. Regaining mobility with his leg is one of the first of a long series of steps back to complete recovery. Time spent with his teammates reminds him of what awaits when the work is done.
"He knows what it's going to take to come back and he's going to do it," Hornacek said.