Bridges Honored by Suns Fans, Teammates and Coaches for his Hustle and Determination
Mikal Bridges has put together a highly impressive rookie campaign, ranking among the league’s best defenders at just 22 years old. Earlier this week, Bridges was honored for his hustle, grit and determination as he awarded the 2019 Dan Majerle Hustle Award.
“It means a lot,” Bridges said. “Just shows how hard I play out there. Do whatever it takes to win playing as hard as I can for my teammates.”
And those teammates played a major role in Bridges being named the recipient. The selection is based on the results of five voting categories: Suns fans, Suns players, Suns coaches, Suns employees and Dan Majerle himself with each voting group carrying an equal weight.
“My teammates, coaches, they all voted for me,” Bridges said. “I appreciate them for that. I’m happy they see me out there trying to do whatever it takes to get a win.”
Bridges’ hard work and dedication to the game of basketball was witnessed throughout his entire college career. While he was just a role player when Villanova won the National Championship his freshman season, Bridges developed his craft and turned into one of the best all-around players in the country when he led Nova to a second championship last season.
“Every year try to see myself improve,” Bridges said. “I’ve been doing that since college. My main goal this year wasn’t to make a rookie team, it was just go out there and see myself improve every day. Seeing how I started the season to where I’m at right now, I really see myself improving a lot. It’s only up from here.”
Bridges definitely seems to be adjusting just fine at the next level as he currently holds the second-best steal-to-turnover ratio at 1.8 in the NBA this season, trailing only former four-time Dan Majerle Hustle Award winner P.J. Tucker in Houston (2.1). In fact, his 1.8 ratio is the second-best ever from a rookie, trailing only two-time Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard.
Even in just his first season, Bridges has already felt improvements throughout all areas of his game.
“I think just everything,” Bridges said. “Obviously, it’s a different game from college. The NBA is a whole different thing. Just adjusting to that, passing, shooting, creating, finishing, everything. Being smart out there as well. Reading defenses. Reading offenses. Just see myself get better every day. I appreciate my coaches and my teammates pushing me every day for that.”
The Dan Majerle Hustle Award featured a new design for the 2019 recipient compared to previous years. Instead of the standard silver paint job, this year’s trophy has an orange coat with a purple base with Phoenix engravings throughout such as the state flag, the city’s skyline and of course, Bridges’ face.
Compared to other trophies and awards that Bridges has won in the past, this one is not only one of the most unique, but also one of the biggest in size.
“Yeah, this one’s really cool,” Bridges said. “This one is different because it’s not like a player. Most of them are just like holding a ball… This is pretty cool. Has my face on it, has the city skyline on it. It’s pretty dope.”
P.J. Tucker currently holds the record for winning the award four consecutive times, but that streak may in jeopardy as Bridges has his eyes set on taking a few more of these home.
“I’m going to try to see how many of these things I can,” Bridges said. “This is one so far. Try to get next one next year.”
The trophy will reside at Bridges’ mother’s house with the rest of his basketball achievements, but just because he’s already been given the award, doesn’t mean he plans on slowing down. With two games left in the season, Bridges plans to play with the same intensity he’s had since the first game of the season.
“Just playing as hard as we can, playing as a team,” Bridges said. “Creating that chemistry at the end of the season, getting ready for next year. Obviously, it’s going to be tough, but we’re going to stick together.”
Bridges and the Suns travel to Houston to tip-off against the Rockets for the second to last game of the season. Be sure to catch the action on Fox Sports Arizona.