Mikal Bridges on Nets, Jalen Brunson, Josh Hart, Villanova

New Net Mikal Bridges, a Villanova product who was traded to Brooklyn by the Suns in the Kevin Durant deal last month, takes a shot at some Q&A with Post columnist Steve Serby.

Q: What is one on-court Villanova moment that sums up Jalen Brunson.

A: Him being heckled at Temple, and him dropping … give him 30, the last year.

Q: What makes him unique?

A: His IQ, his footwork, but it’s just his work ethic is crazy, but … he just doesn’t miss, like he’s very efficient.

Q: Has he always been a crunch-time performer?

A: Ever since I met him.

Q: What is one off-the-court story?

A: Probably leaving the gym and like walking around the campus and him cracking jokes the whole time and him being the very goofiest person I know.

Mikal Bridges
Robert Sabo for NY Post

Q: One on-court memory that you think sums up Josh Hart?

A: We played Notre Dame, he scored every time he had the ball.

Q: What makes him unique?

A: Just physical, and just that demeanor, just go hard on both ends, especially on offense a guy not be able to stay in front of him, and defense they’re not gonna be able to score on him.

Q: How does his persona compare with Jalen’s?

A: They’re both hilarious.

Q: One off-the-court story about Hart?

A: Him playing video games while eating Mike and Ike’s. He was a super candy head, kind of like how you see Marshawn Lynch with the Skittles and everything, that’s how he was with Mike and Ike’s.

Q: You posted a photo of you and Josh on your Instagram with: “From the guy who hated me most of my freshman year because he couldn’t score on me.”

A: Me and Josh weren’t friends in the beginning, which makes it bittersweet now. I was real handsy on defense, and you’ll get frustrated. Coming in as a freshman, not really know who I am, honestly, then we got to know each other and became really close.

Q: Last time the Nets played them [a 124-106 loss Feb. 13], Brunson scored 40 and Hart 27 against you guys.

Mikal Bridges, who scored a team-high 31 points, looks to make a move on Grayson Allen during the Nets’ 118-104 loss to the Bucks.
Noah K. Murray / NY Post

A: Wasn’t fun ’cause we lost, and they whipped our ass a little bit. Wasn’t too fun.

Q: Who would you rather guard?

A: Josh. ’Cause Jalen has too much of a green light.

Q: Did you used to call Jalen “Fathead”?

A: Yeah, he had a lot of nicknames, having a big head.

Q: Why did you think on draft night in 2018 that the Knicks were going to take you No. 9 overall?

A: ’Cause they needed a small forward, and I think the workout went pretty well.

Q: What was more emotional for you, being traded on draft night by your hometown 76ers or being traded by the Suns?

A: Phoenix, 100 percent. … I was there for four and some years, and I got all my close people over there.

Q: You won two national championships at Villanova. Which one was sweeter?

A: I want to say last one, because being older and having a bigger role was definitely sweeter personally for me.

Q: What kind of view did you have of Kris Jenkins’ buzzer-beater against North Carolina in 2016?

A: Oh, I had a great view, honestly. I was right there courtside and it was just … it was wild, it was very wild, but I had a great view, and literally knew it was cash when he let it go.

Q: Which was a better celebration, after the first championship or second?

A: Definitely the first one. Because I was a sophomore, and that was just the only thing on my mind, and I was having fun. The last year I had fun, but it was more getting ready for predraft and stuff.

Q: Describe the feeling of cutting down the nets after “One Shining Moment.”

A: Everything you seen as a kid, it’s just crazy. Watching March Madness, and all the videos on YouTube, with the song, with the music … it was just so surreal.

Mikal Bridges (right) and Jalen Brunson won a national title together at Villanova.
Mikal Bridges (right) and Jalen Brunson won a national title together at Villanova.

Q: What are adjectives you would use to describe Mikal Bridges on the court?

A: Active … fun … and sneaky.

Q: How would you fare if Mikal Bridges was guarding you?

A: I think it would kind of tough, ’cause he’s kind of crafty. The biggest thing I would try and make the refs play the game, try to get a foul call.

Q: Why is defense so much fun for you?

A: Getting steals as a kid was always fun, as I got older, be on the court in college to guard was a biggest thing for me to be out there, and I just fell in love with making it tough on guys to score on me.

Q: How much of a difference does having long arms make?

A: It helps me if I get beat … it gives me help.

Q: What has enabled you to be an ironman?

A: Just blessed to not have no major injuries, but to just want to be out there even if you’re nicked up a little bit, just want to be out there and play all the time.

Q: What’s the most nicked-up you’ve been and still played?

A: Grade 2, sprained my elbow, my shooting arm when I was a rookie. I didn’t tell nobody ’cause I knew they would want me to sit down.

Mikal Bridges drives on Brook Lopez during the Nets' loss to the Bucks.
Mikal Bridges drives on Brook Lopez during the Nets’ loss to the Bucks.
Noah K. Murray-NY Post

Q: Has losing to the Bucks in the 2020-21 NBA Finals with the Suns made you hungrier to win a championship?

A: Yeah, for sure. I feel like even if I won, I’d be eager to get back and win another one.

Q: What is the biggest adversity or obstacle you had to overcome?

A: Redshirt my freshman year was tough. Sitting out, not playing basketball, without being hurt or anything, that was pretty tough on me.

Q: Most unfair criticism?

A: I think coming out of college just not be able to get better at basketball, ’cause maybe they thought I was too old. The ceiling and everything, coming out being drafted, being 21 other than 18- and 19-year olds. It really don’t bother me, but that’s just something that kind of was odd.

Q: Whatever comes to mind: Jay Wright.

A: Smart.

Q: The best lesson you learned under him.

A: Just having great habits.

Q: How tough were those Villanova practices?

A: They were very tough. They were tougher than games.

Mikal Bridges looks to shoot over Giannis Antetokounmpo during the Nets' loss to the Bucks.
Mikal Bridges looks to shoot over Giannis Antetokounmpo during the Nets’ loss to the Bucks.
Noah K. Murray-NY Post

Q: What was his best motivational ploy?

A: I think watching “Lone Survivor.” I know obviously you’re not going to war, but just to have a mindset of just not stopping and just continue to fight.

Q: Before the start of March Madness?

A: Yeah, it mighta been.

Q: Thoughts on Villanova coach Kyle Neptune?

A: That’s my guy, man. I know it’s been tough for him a little bit, but there’s always adversity, but I think he’s handled it really well.

Q: So you think the program’s in good hands?

A: 100 percent.

Q: What is your best memory at Madison Square Garden?

A: Winning the Big East tournament our last year. Winning is everything, and winning at the big stage was dope.

Mikal Bridges
Mikal Bridges
NBAE via Getty Images

Q: What was so great about playing for Suns coach Monty Williams?

A: Just knowing that basketball’s important, but it’s not the only thing in life.

Q: Nets coach Jacque Vaughn?

A: I just love the fact how excited and fired-up he gets every day.

Q: Can you help him build or create a winning culture?

A: Yes, for sure. I think I can, 100 percent. … Being who I am every day, just working hard and having high spirits. I know kind of what it takes to win, and just try to bring that here.

Q: Who are winners in sports you admire?

A: Kobe [Bryant] and LeBron [James]. Obviously you say Mike [Jordan], but Mike was a little too older for me.

Q: Outside of basketball?

A: Tiger Woods, that’s one … Serena Williams … Tom Brady.

Q: Kerry Kittles?

A: Just Big Bro.

Q: Chris Paul?

A: My OG, IQ to the roof, and great person.

Q: Rollie Massimino?

A: Great human.

Q: What drives you?

A: Just want to get better and be the best version of myself I can be … off and on the court. So I think that’s just kind of my big purpose.

Q: Where have you gotten better from a year ago?

A: I think ballhandling and playmaking.

Q: If you could go one-on-one with any player in NBA history, who would it be?

A: Tracy McGrady.

Q: If you could pick the brain of any NBA player in history?

A: [Rajon] Rondo.

Q: Why don’t they call you “Noodles” anymore?

A: I don’t know why, I’m happy it kind of stopped. Noodles came in high school from an opposing team. I’m still a little skinny dude but I know I’m a bit stronger than I was when I first got the nickname.

Q: Describe your mother, Tyneeha Rivers.

A: Just great leader, works hard, and fierce.

Q: How did you become a Rams fan?

A: Grew up playing with them in a video game, with Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk, Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce. Stuck with them even when they were really bad, our friends let me have it all the time and made fun of me, so I could never change.

Q: What position did you play until high school?

A: Wideout.

Q: Favorite receiver?

A: Randy Moss or T.O, Terrell Owens.

Q: Three dinner guests?

A: Hall and Oates, Bryce Harper.

Q: Favorite movie?

A: “Friday Night Lights.”

Q: Favorite actor?

A: Will Smith.

Q: Favorite actress?

A: Gabrielle Union.

Q: Favorite singer/rapper/entertainer?

A: Drake.

Q: Favorite meal?

A: Anything Chipotle.

Q: Favorite Philadelphia cheesesteak?

A: Larry’s.

Q: Favorite Brooklyn things?

A: Playing at the Barclays. The fans are real dope, I love ’em in there already.

Q: What are your thoughts on the tight playoff race with the Knicks involved in it, too.?

A: Not worried about anybody else, just us trying to be the best team we could be and try to get us right.

Q: What are your career goals?

A: Probably to win a championship, honestly. And play till I’m old. … I want to see if I can get to 20 years.

Q: Tom Brady played till 45.

A: I will not be the guy that’s just playing on one leg. When I’m done, I’m done. I’m not gonna try to drag it out as long as I can.

Q: What do you hope your legacy will be?

A: Just continue to be a winner. But just be a better person. Just known as me being a really good human I care the most about.