Q&A: Mikal Bridges is the NBA’s Iron Man

Mikal Bridges hasn’t missed a day of work in over six years. The guard/forward for the Western Champion Suns stopped by for a conversation with The Association about Phoenix’s Finals run, playing with Chris Paul, and playing in 365 straight games — dating back to his freshman year at Villanova.

Below is an excerpt from our conversation.

The Suns went from being a lottery team to Western Conference Champions in one season, and you made the Finals in just your third year in the league. Did your experience in two NCAA Championship games for Villanova play a factor in your approach?

At Nova, our mindset was to always focus on the next game, and that translated well in a series [format]. Even though it was a best-of-seven, I learned to look at it like, “Just win our next game.” That was easier for me personally, from a mindset standpoint.

What have the conversations been like in the locker room, particularly after the Game 6 loss? Is there hunger for more — an “unfinished business” vibe around Phoenix?

There was an understanding that we all love and care about each other, and that we wanted everyone to come back. We had players whose contracts were up, but guys came back. We recognized that we had a heck of a season, and we’re using it as fuel. We have the right mindset about the upcoming season, and we’re after different results.

We hear so much about Chris Paul’s leadership on the court, but what is he like behind the scenes? 

Chris has been through it all. He lent his playoff expertise to our team throughout all of last season and encouraged us to not get caught up in the hype. It made things easier for guys to go out there and be themselves on the court. 

He’s a great leader. He helps you see and think through things on the court that maybe you’ve never thought about before. He really set the tone for us as a team.

You’re the Iron Man of basketball. Between college and the NBA, you’ve played 365 straight games! Is this something you’re aware of? Is it a point of pride?

I’m definitely aware of this now, but I didn’t give it much thought at the time. In college, you can’t just miss games, especially with Coach [Jay] Wright, unless you’re seriously injured. But I just wanted to be out there and play. In the NBA, I’m just trying to stay healthy. 

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