Mikal Bridges is nice, as in good. He wants you to understand that. In an hour-long interview with The Pivot podcast, hosted by former NFL players Channing Crowder, Fred Taylor and Ryan Clark, Bridges talked about a lot about just what’s nice about him: his defense, his ability to adjust, his desire to be a leader and his personality, which appears to be an open as it is, well, nice.
Bridges also wants to let fans know that he is decidedly not the guys he replaced, the Big Three of Kevin Durant (for whom he was traded at the deadline,) Kyrie Irving or James Harden. Asked about how Brooklyn fans reacted to him and to his new nickname, “Brooklyn Bridges,” the Philly native said it’s all good and he think he understands why the team’s loyalists like him.
“I think Brooklyn some had a lot going on with like, you know, they had Kyrie, Harden and KD and then all that happening ... and like Kyrie and stuff,” he told Pivot hosts. “I think [fans] were ready for like, a refresh, and like I’m like the total opposite of them dudes. I’m just like, the quietest, chillest. I ain’t trippin’ off nothin’. like so I’ll just this happy all the time. So I was just like, I knew I was gonna be fine for sure.”
Without mentioning any of the Big Three — or any other NBA players — by name, Bridges said sometimes, all the fame that comes with stardom can go to a player’s head, make stars feel “entitled.”
“I think just maybe it’s a lot of things. It could be the people around them,” Bridges said. “And like just being not used to kind of that fame-ish. And you know, I feel like people get entitled especially in a league like you feel like you don’t have to listen to nobody and and people be scared to tell you some things and push you so you kind of you could get away with a lot of things. That’s what sometimes come down to and I think just a lot of work and hard work kind of it loses people sometimes.”
“And you could like get all the money in the world. You could do whatever you want. You could travel. You could have fun and I think sometimes the work kind of shows whether you work out though like you work out but like How hard are you working out?”
Indeed, the Nets forward said there’s no secret to his success.
“[E]verybody will ask me like, well, like, ‘what’s the secret? How you get better?’ I’m like, ‘it’s just workout.’ I just workout every day I just workout. I mean, I don’t kill myself, but like I work out and I just get better. Like I think there’s no secret to it. Like I just just work out and work on my game and try to get stronger and just keep trying to go up and I think that’s that’s the easiest thing.”
Bridges was asked specifically about what’s wrong with Ja Morant who for the second time in two months was seen on video waving a gun. In his answer, Bridges didn’t mention Morant but made it clear why he never got in trouble, didn’t hang with a bad crowd, how he toughened up.
“My mom don’t play none of that,” he said, laughing, “If I bring somebody around my mom. she would be ‘nah.’ That’s just how it is. Like people are scared of my mom like she don’t play know that and like as I got older now like it’s funny because like I feel like I’ll tell her all the time like ‘I’m really becoming you’ like cuz she’s human resources like she has to fire people all the time. It’s just be like that boss lady. And I’ll just hit her up and talk to her like, I’m like ‘I’m really becoming like you like I’m starting to be like I don’t play that shit like I’m starting to be like you for real.’ She’s laughing because I got I was never like that growing up...
“I just understand what people would try to either ... like not use me ... or like try to just be there just because like the famous stuff like I’ve been in and I know now and and I’m just like, I’m cool.”
Bridges spoke as well about the pride he takes in his defense, having finished second in Defensive Player of the Year in 2022. He admits, however, there are some players who you have to respect, have to slow down, not necessarily stop. They’re just that good.
“That’s it but it takes like a lot to look into that and and want to be that guy want to lock in and look at film and other players tendencies besides just looking at how can I get a bucket? It’s not pretty and a lot of people just don’t have that will and you know you also gotta be smart,” he said. “You gotta do all that stuff. And you know, it’s tough but I think biggest thing about me is also learning like you be locked down but you also gotta live with like, some of the things like these guys are Hall of Famers all stars. Like, as much as I work on my defense, that’s how much they put in their offense.”
Bridges spoke extensively about the trade and the change it brought, and said he understood that breaking up with his teammates and his then head coach. Monty Williams. is just part of the game.
“I’m just like, like that’s how life is but, I’m not going to war,” he said.
In fact, he said he and Cam Johnson spoke last summer about the KD trade request and how it could mean moving both from Phoenix to New York. Making thing easier, he said, was how much he liked New York City.
“Me, I always love New York. So when even when the whole situation happened in the summer when KD asked for a trade he wanted to come here. Me and Cam Johnson knew like ‘Well, obviously we’re going to be a part of that. Like we just knew KD wants to come here. We’re gonna so just make jokes like, ‘Oh, we’re going to Brooklyn’ but like, ‘I love New York.’ I thought I was gonna get drafted No. 9 by the Knicks and I was prepared to like not live in the city but I was prepared to be in the city. I was very excited about living in New York. So once I got the opportunity to get and I got traded here, I was just like shit like, Thank you!”
As for next season, Bridges, like his other new teammates, talked about adjusting to a new situation and how with a training camp and preseason, the Nets should be ready to take another step. He also expects changes and an expanded role as a leader for him.
“I just think coming into the preseason to a team we’ll have obviously might be a little bit different when you know time comes you never know,” he said. “You know, we got free agents and stuff like that. I know just be the leader and come in and just know like, all I care about is winning. You know, I’m saying like, if I’m still if I’m one of the main guys to do like trying to do everything like it ain’t about me.”
The interview was the second by Bridges that have been published in the last three days. Hoop Herald’s Spencer Davies also had an interview with him. The underlying point, as Alex Schiffer noted in another context, is that the Nets see Bridges as the path forward, not just because he’s a nice player but because he can lead as well.