In Eric Bledsoe's eyes, he was ready to run his own NBA team.
Now that he's the starting point guard for Phoenix, Bledsoe has blossomed into a major player for the Suns.
The athletic Bledsoe is averaging a career high in points (18.4) and assists (5.9).
Bledsoe had spent his first three seasons with the Clippers before he was traded last summer to the Suns.
Bledsoe was backing up Clippers All-Star Chris Paul at point guard, and he knew staying in Los Angeles probably meant the 6-1 Bledsoe would never start.
"My second year, after the playoffs [against Memphis and San Antonio], I had a great playoff and I was feeling confident over the summer," Bledsoe said. "I kind of felt it then" he was ready to start.
Paul become a mentor for Bledsoe during the two years they played together with the Clippers.
When the two played each for the first time during a regular-season game at Staples Center, Bledsoe said he was expecting the best from Paul.
"Obviously we're friends, but when you step on the court, you are competing against one another," Bledsoe said. "I know it's going to be a real intense, fun, get-after-each-other type of game."
Bledsoe was a part of a three-team, four-player trade that sent him to the Suns from the Clippers last summer.
The Clippers acquired Jared Dudley from the Suns and got J.J. Redick in a sign-and-trade from the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Clippers also traded Caron Butler to the Suns, who traded him to the Bucks.
When he was hired as the Clippers' coach, Doc Rivers said he didn't want to trade Bledsoe.
"I really liked him," Rivers said. "I thought that he fit a lot of the stuff that I do, especially defensively."
Rivers also knew the Clippers needed players and Bledsoe's value was high around the NBA.
"He was ready to be a starter, there's no doubt," Rivers said. "We really only had one talk and I talked to his representatives. They made that very clear. And if it wasn't starting, he was playing a lot of minutes. That could have happened here. I just didn't know if it was going to happen here. And I don't know if he would have been happy or not."
Gentry faces his old team
It may not be on the same level for Clippers associate head coach Alvin Gentry, but after he was fired by the Suns last season, Rivers said he was sure Gentry wanted the Clippers to beat Phoenix.
Gentry coached the Suns for 31/2 years before he was fired midway through last season.
He took the Suns to the Western Conference finals in 2010, losing to the Lakers.
"In Alvin's case, you hope that the players sense that and they want to win it for him," Rivers said. "But I've never heard of a 'player win for the coach' speech yet."
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