Updated: Friday, 12:30 a.m.
Mikal Briges was in heaven.
The Malvern, Pennsylvania, native and Villanova product had just been selected by the hometown Sixers. He was all smiles as he made the media rounds discussing what it would be like to play for the franchise.
And then he received an early lesson on just how swift and cutthroat business can be in the NBA.
Bridges was traded to the Phoenix Suns for No. 16 overall pick Zhaire Smith and an unprotected 2021 first-round pick via Miami.
“I live in this city with you all. I watch Villanova,” Sixers head coach and interim general manager, Brett Brown, told reporters at the team’s training complex. “I love his mom, I love his college coach. There’s a human side to this that is kind of really hard to explain. And we all, I’m assuming, go from this level of excitement and coincidence, you can’t make this up, to something as a group. We sit there and we feel off this and again one we knocked back, it was a great opportunity, really a great opportunity and then there it is.”
And there Bridges went.
After praising how he was going to get to stay at home, he swiftly learned he was headed to the desert to join No. 1 overall selection Deandre Ayton.
Bridges starred at ‘Nova, where he won two national championships under head coach Jay Wright. The 6-7, 210-pound wing took his game to a new level last season when he averaged 17.7 points on 51.4 percent field goal shooting and 43.5 percent three-point shooting. He added 5.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.1 blocks in 32.1 minutes a game for the Wildcats.
“It means the world to me,” Bridges said of being taken by the Sixers after walking across the draft stage. “Not the fact that I’m home, [but] that I’m just put in a great organization, great coaches I know who are going to develop me. They take a lot of pride in me. They took a chance on me and I’m just happy. It’s a blessing.”
Bridges might not have even been the happiest person at his draft table when his name was called. His mother Tyneeha Rivers, who just so happens to be the vice president of human resources at Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, which includes the Sixers, let out a hearty cheer.
“It’s amazing. It’s an experience I’ll never forget, and I’m so excited he’s coming home to be part of our Sixers family,” Rivers said. “It’s amazing. Go Sixers!”
His mother may still be saying go Sixers, but it surely isn’t nearly as loud as when she thought her son was going to be suiting up for the home team.