Mikal Bridges’ mother, Tyneeha Rivers, knows what it is like to be employed by the NBA, but sometimes it can be a brutal business. Tyneeha is the vice president of human resources for Harris Blitzer Sports and Entertainment, a company that handles the hiring for the Philadelphia Sixers. Tyneeha was able to raise Mikal as a single mother, balancing college classes with raising a son. It looked like we were headed for a Hallmark moment after Bridges was drafted by his hometown Sixers at No. 10, and where his mother works.
After Bridges and his mother were interviewed on ESPN sharing the special moment, Bridges ended up getting traded to the Suns a few picks later. What a brutal moment for Bridges and his family after he was briefly reunited with his mother. Here’s a look at the ESPN interview.
One of Tyneeha’s bosses, Sixers executive Scott O’Neil, had nothing but good things to say about Mikal’s mother prior to the draft, but things could be a bit awkward at work.
“Tyneeha is an incredible leader in our organization,’’ Tyneeha explained to the New York Post. “She has been a huge driver of the culture and we are so proud she made such a positive impact on our employees and workplace.“
Learn more about Mikal’s mother.
1. Mikal’s Mother Is the Vice President of Human Resources for Harris Blitzer Sports and Entertainment, the Company that Hires Employees for the 76ers
Mikal is a hometown kid, who helped Villanova win two national championships. His mother plays a key role for the Sixers, leaving many to wonder if Mikal could be drafted by Philadelphia. Tyneeha is the vice president of human resources for Harris Blitzer, the company that hires and recruits for the Sixers and Devils. Tyneeha may be part of the organization, but she is keeping things professional behind the scenes during her son’s draft process.
“I stayed in my mom zone,’’ Tyneeha explained to The New York Post. “I’ll bump into [Sixers coach] Brett Brown once in a while, but I don’t overstep my boundaries. If I have questions I’ll call his agent. I don’t want to use my position to say, ‘How did Mikal do?’”
2. Tyneeha Was Previously Employed Directly by the Philadelphia 76ers
According to Tyneeha’s LinkedIn profile, she was hired by Harris Blitzer in August 2017. Prior to that, Tyneeha spent over a year as the Sixers vice president of human resources, a promotion from her previous title of human resources director. Considering all of her roles, Tyneeha has had a connection to the Sixers since 2015.
While Harris Blitzer helps the Sixers with the hiring, the company also handles the hiring for other clients including the New Jersey Devils and Prudential Center. Here’s how Tyneeha describes the company on her LinkedIn profile.
Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment Properties: Philadelphia 76ers (NBA), New Jersey Devils (NHL), Prudential Center, a top five-ranked performance venue in the U.S. located in Newark, New Jersey, Team Dignitas, an internationally renowned esports team, the Sixers Innovation Lab Crafted by Kimball, The GRAMMY Museum Experience Prudential Center, Delaware 87ers (NBA G League) and Binghamton Devils (AHL).
3. Mikal’s Mom Was a 19-Year-Old College Sophomore When She Had Him & Balanced a Mail Room Job With Night Classes
Mikal learned what it took to succeed in life from his mother’s work ethic. According to Bleacher Report, Tyneeha was 19 years old, and just a college sophomore when she had Mikal. Despite her grueling schedule, Tyneeha did not see it as a reason to quit school and give up on her dreams. She worked in a mail room during the day then went to night classes.
Tyneeha grew up in inner-city Philadelphia, and wanted a different life for her son. Bleacher Report detailed Mikal’s early years where Tyneeha was juggling so many different things.
Tyneeha Rivers was a 19-year-old sophomore in college when she had Mikal. She raised her son as a single mother and refused to quit school, attending class at night and working in a company mail room by day. She’d return to tuck little Mikal in and read him a bedtime story, often one of the Berenstain Bears stories, and then teach him a new word in the dictionary. Then she’d labor over homework until 4 a.m., sleep three hours and then walk out the door to do it all over.
Unlike her son, Rivers grew up in inner-city Philly, where she says her classmates didn’t talk about things like college. Once there, she felt like she didn’t belong. “I didn’t want Mikal to have to struggle like I did,” she says, beginning to cry.
Some days she was so exhausted from mothering, studying and working that she wanted to collapse. But she persisted and graduated. She then earned a master’s degree in human resources
4. Mikal’s Mother Used Her HR Skills to Help Mikal Vet People
Being a human resources professional can come in handy, especially when your son is choosing a college. Tyneeha was able to decipher which people were telling the truth, and had Mikal’s best interest in mind. Ultimately, the family felt most comfortable with Jay Wright and the program he was building at Villanova. She spoke with Sports Illustrated’s Breakaway podcast about the process.
One of the things that—I’m a resources professional, so one of my gifts, I say gifts, talents, is being able to really vet people and be able to see people for who they are…Because sometimes throughout the process, you hear a lot of different things. People are just telling you what they think you want. But I wanted someone who just flat-out be honest with me, and someone I knew would have his best interest in mind.
This skill also likely came in handy as Mikal went through the pre-draft process. There are a lot of decisions that a player has to make including what agent to hire, where you are going to train and potential endorsement deals. These are all things where Mikal likely leaned on his mom’s guidance.
5. Tyneeha Takes Credit For Mikal’s 7’1″ Wingspan
Mikal was often referred to as a 3-and-D prospect throughout the draft process, meaning he can shoot threes and be an elite defender. A big reason why Mikal is intriguing on the defensive end is his long 7’1″ wingspan that allows him to disrupt passing lanes. His wingspan is something he has in common with his mother.
“I just have ridiculously long, crazy arms,’’ Tyneeha told the New York Post. “That’s what I’m known for. Which is not fun for a woman buying outfits. We once stretched our arms out next to each other and the office was all laughing. It was the same. I have the same wingspan as World B. Free.”