Mikal Bridges helped the Phoenix Suns win the Western Conference this past season and is now a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year.
The 6-foot-6 wing, who has a 7-foot-1 wingspan, did a better job shutting down Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry than almost any other player in the league has done so far this year. For the second season in a row, Bridges is also shooting better than 40.0 percent on three-pointers.
Bridges caught up with HoopsHype and discussed what he learned from his trip to the NBA Finals, how he has grown from playing alongside Chris Paul, and plenty more.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
How much more confidence do you have now that your team has won the West?
Mikal Bridges: Now that I’ve played in those tough games, I feel so much more ready for any other game now. After I’ve played in the NBA Finals, any other game is never going to feel as big as the Finals. I think those games, knowing every little thing matters and you have to do the right things, you have to do those to win. We were close. But now we know, coming into the season, we can not just think we’re going to win every single game. You actually have to lock in and do all the little things to help you win.
What are some of the things you have learned from playing alongside Chris Paul?
MB: I’m constantly learning from his IQ and how smart he is. He understands the game so well and he’s never sped up too much. He reads things before they happen. He knows what he is about to see and before the defense even reacts, he knows how to make that pass or he is just getting the shot that he wants. Defensively, he knows what the team is going to do and he is always in the right spot and he is very, very, very vocal. That is an area I struggle with at times – even in college but also during my few years in the league so far. I feel like I should go out there and do it myself and try as hard as I can. But you forget to speak on the court. He is the main person to remind me of that every single time. It’s not just you. You have to really help your teammates as well and use your voice.
How do you see your leadership roles changing as you become more experienced?
MB: I feel like we have that connection now where everybody has a voice. We can really get on each other. It’s never any disrespect. We’re really trying to help each other and win. Now, when I use my voice, it’s not like “Why is he talking?” or anything like that. Everybody listens. Usually, I am going to say something that makes sense. But if they feel like I’m wrong, they’re going to voice back and we have our communication right there.
Now that you've signed a massive contract extension, what are some of the things you have learned about finances since you came into the league?
New $90M deal.
— Duane Rankin (@DuaneRankin) December 12, 2021
MB: Honestly, just stuff like paying rent. There are so many little things, though. When I was going to college, we lived in the dorms. I didn’t pay for those things. So it’s just paying for rent and for my phone bill and all the things that I didn’t have to do when I was in college. It’s dope because it feels like it was about a year ago but somehow it’s literally been four years and how fast it’s gone has really surprised me.
Is there anything that you’re involved with off the court that you’re excited about right now?
We have an exciting announcement! Phoenix basketball star @mikal_bridges has become Dovly’s brand ambassador! We are beyond thrilled about this partnership!
— Dovly | Credit Solution (@Dovly_inc) October 28, 2021
MB: I’m actually partnering with Dovly. It’s a credit improvement company that helps people with their financial trouble. I like that they have a free service. That’s a big thing. My mom taught me about credit scores as a young kid and ever since I got into the league, I try to use my voice and help younger fans. I believe in good credit and financial health. I know what it’s like for hard-working families like my mom and I were. It’s important to have good credit so you can buy a house or a car.
What made you want to use your platform to partner with them in particular?
— Mikal Bridges (@mikal_bridges) August 21, 2020
MB: I’m happy I could work with a company in Phoenix. I’m so used to being on the East Coast. I’m happy to call Phoenix my home and knowing they’re based out here makes me feel homey out here. But when I was a kid and I watched athletes and I saw all the little things they did, it hit because I wanted to be like them. I watched every single thing they did and I learned things that I never would have known. So now, I’m in my fourth year in the league and there are some people who look up to me. I try to be the greatest person I can be and invest and be involved with things that I know are not just good for me but for everyone else, too. I’m happy I could use my voice for that.