Mikal Bridges: Returning to Philadelphia
He was born in Philadelphia, grew up in Philadelphia, went to college in Philadelphia and was even originally drafted by Philadelphia. On Monday, Mikal Bridges returns to his hometown to play against his childhood team in front of his family and friends.
After being traded to the Phoenix Suns on draft night, Bridges packed his bags and moved out of the state of Pennsylvania for the first time in his life. As a self-proclaimed “Mama’s Boy”, the transition away from his family has been something new for him, but that doesn’t mean he has lost communication with those back home.
“[My mom is] a big part of my life,” Bridges said. “I talk to her every single day. If I don’t call her, by like the end of the night she’ll call me or text me and be like ‘Hello? Why didn’t you call me today?’ all worried. So I talk to her every single day. Can’t miss a day, or she’ll be like mad at me. But yeah, just real close. Always been my whole life.”
It was actually Bridges’ mother, Tyneeha Rivers, who got him into basketball. In just second grade, he and Rivers walked passed a gym and the sound of the basketballs bouncing piqued Bridges' interest and his mother took care of the rest.
“We walked in there, and my mom kind of talked to the coach and stuff, saying like ‘He’s trying to try out for the team’ and stuff so I ended up being on that team for like, all the way through middle school,” Bridges said.
Now the Vice President of Human Resources working with the 76ers, Rivers has had involvement with basketball throughout her entire life, so it was no surprise that Bridges would pick up the similar interest.
“She grew up watching basketball,” Bridges said. “I think she was a cheerleader at one point in her life at her high school and my dad played (basketball) so I used to go to games and stuff when he was in college. We used to go to high school games.”
He credits his mentality to always be a good person and continue to grind every day to what he has learned from his mother. However, she’s not the only person Bridges is excited to play in front of on Monday.
“I’ve got three brothers. We’re all close,” Bridges said. “We always talk all the time.”
With such a tight-knit family, the distance has definitely provided some difficulties for the rookie, but he said the current weather differences has made the transition a little bit easier.
“The snowstorm that hit yesterday, had me like ‘Oh, yeah, I’m happy I’m not there,” Bridges said. “I’m fine with the 70s here I don’t want to go back in them 30’s and snow, and so, it’s way different weather-wise and I’m enjoying it, for sure.”
Now on a flight to Philadelphia, Bridges is able to live out one of his lifelong dreams of playing a professional basketball game in his home state.
“I’m excited again to have my family and friends come out to the game like they always did in high school and college,” Bridges said. “But now it’s kind of cool [because] there’s more of an excitement ‘cause you’ve been away and now you come back.”
Bridges’ smile grew when asked how many tickets he had to pick up for his friends and family.
“A lot,” Bridges said. “I got a lot of tickets. Trying to make it a home game for the Suns.”
Although it won’t quite be the full Phoenix fan base out in Philadelphia, Bridges’ impressive rookie start mixed with a homecoming will definitely provide some Suns cheers, chants and jerseys in the 76ers building.