COLUMN: Miles Bridges' NBA Decision
TULSA, Okla. — This week there is no doubt freshman forward Miles Bridges will lose hours of sleep trying to decide the fate of his future.
Does he stay or does he go?
This could be the greedy part of me, but if I’m Bridges then I take the money and run. Luckily, MSU fans don’t have me on their team because I would be burned on defense constantly and be put on many posters.
Bridges' decision could come as early as this week.
There are only two reasons why Bridges should not make the decision to enter the NBA draft.
One is if mentally he cannot handle the added pressure of being on his own with a lot of money. Sounds like a good problem to have, however I understand the need for another year of mental maturity in order to understand how paying bills work and balancing a checkbook.
It might sound silly to some, but according to Sports Illustrated, as many as 60 percent of NBA players go bankrupt when they’re done with basketball. Being able to protect his money at the next level is harder than perceived.
Bridges does have experience away from home because he spent the end of his high school career in West Virginia at Huntington Prep.
Reason two would be if he truly wants to win a championship at the NCAA level. Many players select a college based on the atmosphere of the arena and the added emotion college basketball gives, which professional basketball does not.
If Bridges wants to pursue a NCAA National Championship, then next year he will have an amazing opportunity, as long as the injury bug doesn’t bite the Spartans again.
Bridges will have the same freshman class, Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn Jr. back, Matt McQuaid back, Gavin Schilling, Ben Carter, etc.
Additionally they will add a long power forward in Xavier Tillman and extra height and skill with Jaren Jackson. If Brian “Tugs” Bowen decides to pick MSU, and I think the Bridges' choice will have an effect on that, then they will add more size and athleticism on the wings.
Next season’s team will be long and talented, with another year of the visionary Cassius Winston to distribute the ball.
Head coach Tom Izzo’s core principles in basketball are defense, rebounding and the fast break. Schilling and Co. will provide top rebounding, Winston in transition can find shooters in corners or diving bigs. Lastly, this team would need to focus on its defense.
Surely they will be a contender for the top team in the nation.
On the other hand, the NBA offers many perks for Bridges, one of which is a lot of money.
It sounds bad to say you want to leave to get your money, however the game of basketball is fragile. Out of everyone on this team, Bridges understands the fragile nature of basketball.
In West Lafayette, Ind. fifth-year senior Eron Harris attempted to make a play driving baseline. After a knockback from Isaac Haas, Harris gruesomely injured his right knee, ending his season and college basketball career.
Standing just feet from Harris was Bridges, who saw the pain and agony on Harris’ face, and heard the scream after the pain had hit him. In his reaction, Bridges weeped for his fallen teammate, using his jersey to wipe away the tears.
That moment is when Bridges witnessed how easily a routine drive to the basket can end with terrible circumstances. If he returns next season, Bridges will drive baseline dozens of times as he did this season, and will play with high energy and aggression, all plays that might damage a future in the NBA.
Whether that thought sits in his head or not I do not know, but he and Harris share a close bond in the locker room, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Harris is heavily involved with giving Bridges advice about his future.
Here is why I think Bridges leaves for the NBA:
When I was speaking with him months ago and his mother, Cynthia Bridges, about a profile on the star freshman, Bridges spoke with smiles about giving back to the community he grew up in — Flint, Mich.
His mother mentioned the close ties to the church and how he always wanted to give back.
Using the NBA as a platform, Bridges could use his money and popularity to help change the damaged city of Flint.
Fighting for the health of inner cities has been growing in professional basketball. Players like LeBron James have used their platform to help out the cities they grew up in. In James’ case, he formed The LeBron James Family Foundation for his hometown of Akron, Ohio.
He also has helped the city of Cleveland, where after an emotional NBA Finals comeback he screamed, “Cleveland, this is for you.” His passion and emotion for the city showed the want to help it grow.
Dwyane Wade has been an advocate for preventing gun violence in the city of Chicago. High amounts of shootings and murders in the city took many lives, including 32-year-old Nykea Aldridge, Wade’s cousin. Since then he has vowed to give back to Chicago in hopes more family members will live.
Bridges could use his spot in the NBA to help Flint’s water crisis, which has lost popularity, but in January when I talked to Cynthia Bridges, she said she still used bottled water for cooking and cleaning vegetables. He could also be an advocate for preventing violence in the city, which claimed people close to him.
Miles said the NBA will always be there for him, and it will, but it depends on whether he wants to gamble on himself or take the guarantee.
If he does choose the NBA draft, my guess is he will be a late lottery pick, somewhere in the No. 11-15 range. That could land him a starting salary between $1.77 million and $1.44 million.
A pretty penny for someone who will turn 19 on March 21.