PHOENIX — Fourth-year Phoenix Suns wing Cam Johnson was only a few months into his rookie year during the 2019-20 season before the COVID-19 pandemic halted everything. Over nearly a two-year span, smaller events that allowed players to feel closer to the community were not taking place for everyone’s safety.
It’s 2022 now, though, so Johnson is finally able to do these things, as well as events on a much bigger scale. You might remember a silly bet with teammate Mikal Bridges turning into Johnson serving lemonade and cookies to hundreds of Suns fans in February.
This summer, Johnson had the second annual CJ23 Invitational 3-on-3 Tournament, a basketball occasion Johnson did in his native Pittsburgh last year before having the right time and place to bring it to Phoenix this offseason.
The two-day tournament, held at Phoenix’s Ability 360, has proceeds from team entry spectator fees going to Phoenix Suns Charities.
Johnson had a buddy from high school who ran a successful 3-on-3 tournament a few years in a row, and the inspiration brought on Johnson joining the cause and slapping his name on it.
Johnson, as you can see in the picture, is able to have loads of interactions with everyone. Johnson talked with that group of lads for at least 20 minutes between games, and that’s the type of stuff he couldn’t even think of doing a year or two ago.
As he noted, Johnson in his first two seasons was also really focused on figuring out the whole, you know, being a professional basketball player thing.
He confirmed Phoenix feels like his second home now.
“For sure,” Johnson said when asked if that was the case. “I love it here. I love living out here, especially in the season.”
Johnson, as anyone from a much colder climate would say, cited how great it is coming back from a road trip and taking his jacket off or not needing to scrape ice off his car.
The event had a handful of donors, including Flower Child, the restaurant that supplied the lemonade for the lemonade stand.
That’s just one small example of how those connections to the community can form and then strengthen from there.
For any fans who would want to spectate and pay the $5 that goes to Phoenix Suns Charities, the bracket play for the tournament begins on Sunday at 9 a.m. at Ability 360 in Phoenix.