PHOENIX -- Their connection is more than just an Instagram photo tweeted out last summer.
No, it runs much deeper than that, according to LeBron James.
"Very close," he said of his relationship with Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe. "Been knowing him since he was in high school. It started from there. He's like a little brother of mine. I wish him the best in getting back healthy. I know he misses the game. Phoenix got a good one in having him here."
That's twice now he's said that about Bledsoe since the Suns acquired him. The first time was six months ago on Twitter, and then this week as the Heat were in town to play the Suns on Tuesday.
Why does the four-time NBA MVP believe Phoenix is a good landing spot for his good friend?
"It allowed for him to flourish, spread his wings," James said. "Obviously, he learned a lot under Chris Paul the last couple of years (with the L.A. Clippers). Coming here allowed him to use everything that he got from Chris Paul and kind of do the things that he's been learning over the last couple of years and flourish. Up until the injury he was showing what he's capable of doing. I know he's excited to get back on the floor when he gets back healthy."
Bledsoe, four weeks removed from right knee surgery, was unavailable for comment on his and James' friendship. During his rehab, Bledsoe has been limited to the media as directed by his representation, who prefer their client not do any interviews until he returns to practice.
Bledsoe and James share the same agency, Klutch Sports Group.
The relationship, though again, goes much further than agents.
"I give him a lot of advice on and off the floor," James said, "but it's not for me to publicize to the media."
The Suns got a glimpse of what Bledsoe can do on the floor. As a first-year starter, he was averaging career highs in points (18.0), assists (5.8) and rebounds (4.3) in the 24 games before he was hurt.
That is only the tip of the iceberg, according to James, who believes Bledsoe has a very high ceiling.
"He's got a lot of basketball, a lot of knowledge to continue to learn. You're going to learn that over the course of the years, over the course of every game that you play," James said. "One thing about it, he's a student of the game. He loves to play and to practice. Any kid that's like a gym rat is always going to continue to improve."