Next starts now.
It’s more than just a marketing slogan. It’s three words that say everything about the Suns’ offseason. They also say almost everything you need to know about one of the newest members of the team, Wesley Johnson.
In an offseason where the Suns’ roster underwent more reconstruction and enhancements than half the people in Scottsdale on a Saturday night, the only constant has been change. Johnson’s summer has been very similar.
Not only did the 6-foot-7 swingman change addresses when he was sent from the Timberwolves to the Suns and thus trade in his snow jacket for cargo shorts, he also added a few new names to his personal roster as well. On June 2 he and his “better half,” as he likes to refer to her, Melissa; welcomed twin boys, Santana and Wesley, into the world. It’s an experience that transformed Johnson more than any trade ever could.
“It changes your perspective on life. On everything,” Johnson said about the birth of his sons with the kind of amazement in his voice usually reserved for the first time a person sees one of the seven wonders of the world or a Christopher Nolan film. “Just seeing those two little boys smile and kick and everything. Just looking into their eyes lit a fire behind me to work that much harder.”
Like a superhero wears a symbol of his dedication to those he’s sworn to protect, Johnson will wear a reminder of his dedication to family on his chest every time he takes the court with the Suns. Unlike some, the “2” on his jersey will be much more than just a number.
“[My twins] were born on June 2nd,” he said with a smile so big it could fit on Shaquille O’Neal’s face. “There was two of them. I’m not playing for just myself. I’m playing for them as well. I picked the No. 2 for them so I always remember that.”
The No. 2 will also be a reminder of how his first two years in the NBA have been more trying than attempting to get Call Me Maybe out of your head. After being the No. 4 pick in the 2010 draft, the Syracuse product never truly found his niche in Minnesota. Like the birth of his sons changed his perspective on life, his rebirth with the Suns has changed his outlook on his career.
“Oh man, I can’t even put it in words,” he said about what it means to be in Phoenix. “Me having a new beginning, I can wipe the slate clean. I can come here, start all over again and re-identify myself.”
While “Next Starts Now” for the Suns, that new beginning started back in June for Wesley Johnson. It gave him two really small, yet powerful reasons to re-emerge. All he has to do is look down each practice and game to be reminded of it.