Suns’ Mikal Bridges gets Major Defensive Player of the Year Endorsement

Phoenix Suns, Mikal Bridges. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Phoenix Suns, Mikal Bridges. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

It seems like Mikal Bridges sneaks a pair of handcuffs into his uniform every time he steps out onto the floor for the Phoenix Suns. No matter which poor soul draws him as a matchup, Bridges wastes no time in slapping those cuffs around their wrists and then throwing the key into the stands—setting himself up for another night of stifling defense.

They call him “The Warden” for a reason.

Almost immediately after he came into the league out of Villanova, Bridges has blessed Suns fans with this suffocating play at the floor’s opposite end. However, few gave him the proper respect as a premier defender during his first three seasons as a pro. He even fell off the league’s All-Defensive team last year by a few votes despite his defense helping to push Phoenix all the way to the NBA Finals.

But now roughly three quarters of the way through yet another season operating as The Valley’s certified defensive stopper, having blanketed star players like James Harden, Steph Curry, Anthony Edwards, and Jimmy Butler at different times this year, the national media is finally starting to notice.

On his show First Take yesterday morning, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith shot down the idea of Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green winning the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year Award, referencing Bridges as the rightful recipient instead.

Although it came in a segment where Smith still endorsed the Warriors as his favorite to win it all this year, if you skip to the 2:42 minute mark in this video taken from the broadcast, one can hear him sound off on why Bridges deserves the award rather than Green.

“You don’t miss 32 games and you are Defensive Player of the Year,” said Smith. “That title is going to belong to Mikal Bridges of the Phoenix Suns. That’s the Defensive Player of the Year, let’s get that out of the way right now, there’s nothing to talk about. This brother is special and he deserves our praise.”

In a season where attention from the national media has been minimal for the Suns, this endorsement from one of the world’s most recognized sports personalities must feel good.

With the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year Award being selected via a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters, these words from Smith also promise to boost Bridges’s chances of winning the award. Smith is not only likely to have a vote which he will surely give to Bridges, but sounds up to the task in convincing his colleagues to do the same.

Bridges seemed to appreciate Smith’s support as well, tweeting out after Phoenix’s 131-115 win over the New Orleans Pelicans last night that he is “valid in [his] book.”

With 13 games left to play including tonight’s contest vs the Houston Rockets, and with two of those affairs scheduled to take place on national television, Bridges still has a bit of extra time to further his DPOY case.

Next. Michael Jordan-like Story Coming in From Suns Practice. dark

But regardless, he already has one important figure on his side—one that hates the Dallas Cowboys, knows how to go toe-to-toe with Skip Bayless, and clearly appreciates the game of basketball. He knows Bridges is the farthest thing from a “bonafide scrub,” which is a win in its own right.