The newest Brooklyn Nets star is not shy about identifying one of the key differences between himself and former franchise cornerstones Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden each of whom left the organization under less-than-glamourous circumstances.
“I’m the total opposite of all them dudes,” Mikal Bridges told the crew on ‘The Pivot Podcast’ on May 20. “you’re never gonna catch me off-camera doing some crazy s***.”
Brooklyn gave up a hefty sum of money and a bounty of picks and players to put the trio together which only played 17 games together of what Durant — whom Bridges was traded for — called “amazing basketball” during his introductory press conference with the Phoenix Suns.
Harden had already been gone for roughly a year by then, forcing his way out in a trade to the Philadelphia 76ers in what was ultimately a partnership that left the Nets without control of their first-round draft picks until 2029 and saddled with a diminished version of Ben Simmons.
Simmons is owed more than $78 million over the next two seasons.
Harden’s future in Philadelphia is in question amid rumors he is eyeing a return to the Houston Rockets while Irving’s Dallas Mavericks tenure could also be short-lived.
All three of Durant, Harden, and Irving are in their early-to-mid 30s and each has dealt with injuries or lengthy absences due to other things over the last few years.
Bridges has been the NBA’s iron man even appearing in 83 games this past season.
“I think Brooklyn itself had a lot going on,” Bridges said. “They had Kyrie, Harden, and KD and then all that happening, and Kyrie[‘s suspension], and all that stuff. I think they were just ready for refreshing.”
He emphasized his laid-back demeanor among the different personality traits that separate him from his Nets predecessors. But he also said it takes the help of the people around you.
Mikal Bridges Reveals What Determines NBA Success
“I feel like when people get entitled, especially in the league, you feel like you don’t have to listen to nobody,” Bridges said when asked why the most talented players can fail in the NBA. “People will be scared to tell you some things to push you so you…could get away with a lot of things. That’s what sometimes come down to.”
Bridges was the No. 10 overall pick in 2018 after three years and two NCAA championships at Villanova. He was drafted into a rebuild in the smallest of what Hoop Social grouped as the NBA’s “large markets” and was on a team that was two games away from winning the 2021 NBA Finals.
But his star has only truly risen and it is thanks in large part to his explosion post-trade.
“I think just a lot of work and hard work kind of it loses people sometimes,” he said.
It’s the fruits of that labor that has Bridges as one of the more sought-after (even if unlikely) trade targets this offseason and a role model for the next wave of NBA players getting set to enter the league.
Mikal Bridges a ‘Big Inspiration’
Bridges’ name was floating around the 2023 NBA Draft Combine but not (just) in trade conversations with several draft hopefuls name-dropping the 26-year-old swingman.
“How he changed his game, how he changed his mindset I thought you don’t see very often,” Iowas forward Kris Murray said, per Alex Schiffer of The Athletic is his recap of the combine from May 18. “How he was able to do that in a short time was really cool.”
Murray’s twin brother Keegan Murray was the No. 4 overall pick last season. But he was not the only one to call out Bridges’ progress in his new role with potential Nets draft target – who general manager Sean Marks went to see play in person – Rupert Rayan of the NZ Breakers emphasizing what his development means to him
“I want to have the same trajectory and same process he did,” Rupert said, per Schiffer. “Mikal Bridges is a big inspiration for me.”