Where’s the love? 76ers draft, promptly trade Philly native
This had all the markings of a feel-good hometown story, and it lasted a grand total of around an hour.
Mikal Bridges, who was born in Philadelphia and played college ball at nearby Villanova, was drafted by the 76ers as the No. 10 overall pick in the NBA draft on Thursday. His mother, Tyneeha Rivers, is the VP of human resources for the organization, and when her son’s name was called, she clenched both fists and gave a big smile, giving Bridges a hug.
In an interview with ESPN, she called the thought of her son running out of the locker room of the arena where she works as “surreal.”
“It’s amazing,” Rivers said. “It’s an experience I’ll never forget, and I’m so excited he’s coming home to be part of our Sixers family. It’s amazing. Go Sixers!”
Bridges then had a press conference, wearing a 76ers hat, expressing his gratitude.
“It’s a great feeling to get picked by the Sixers,” Bridges said. “Growing up watching them, going to games when I was young, it’s a blessing. My mom working there, I went to Villanova right around the corner … it’s truly a blessing.”
And just like that, it all changed.
Shortly after drafting Bridges, the 76ers flipped him to the Phoenix Suns for guard-forward Zhaire Smith from Texas Tech, who was the 16th overall pick, and an unprotected 2021 first-round pick.
76ers head coach Brett Brown, who is currently acting as the team’s general manager, said it was his decision to trade Bridges, and that it wasn’t a deal he could pass up, calling Bridges and Smith the 76ers’ 1A and 1B players, respectively, on their draft board.
Brown is in the role following the recent departure of Bryan Colangelo — who resigned after an investigation into whether he posted sensitive information about his own team to multiple anonymous Twitter accounts.
“The torment of trying to do my job in the very limited role for a moment I have as the general manager versus the role I have as the head coach of this program, it’s a toggle,” Brown said. “And this is where we arrived.”
On being traded to the Suns, Bridges appeared to take it all in stride.
“It’s part of life,” Bridges told reporters. “It’s a business. We’re all happy that we’re in this opportunity. We’re happy that we’re here in the NBA.”