In sports, there are moments when things are set up so perfectly that they can’t be ignored and nor can they fail. They are feel good stories that everyone can visualize unfolding before the journey even gets started.
There’s the 1985 NBA Draft where the Knicks secured the number one pick and selected Patrick Ewing.
Here’s some news clips from 1985 when the Knicks won the draft lottery and were able to get Patrick Ewing.
And of course, LeBron heading back to Cleveland after winning two championships in Miami and leading the Cavs to their first title in franchise history in 2016.
Last night during the NBA Draft, the Sixers drafting hometown boy, Villanova star and two-time National Champion, Mikal Bridges, was that type of story.
The talented Bridges was born and raised in Pennsylvania, attending Great Valley High School in Malvern. He worked on his game and after a growth spurt in his sophomore year, he began to attract the attention of college scouts, who felt the 6-foot-6 junior, who averaged 20 points and eight boards a game, could play at the next level.
As a senior, he was named First Team All Class AAAA, selected to the All-Southeastern PA boy’s basketball team and eventually committed to play for the Villanova Wildcats.
He didn’t exactly set the court on fire off the bat, but he was a contributor off the bench in his freshman year when the team won the National Championship in 2016. In his sophomore year he was named to the Big East All Defensive team, and in his junior year he averaged 17.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, was named to the All Big East Team, won MVP of the Big East Tournament, was awarded the Julius Erving Award for the best small forward and won his second national championship with the Wildcats.
This lead him to the night of June 21st, 2018, where the NBA Draft was shaping up nicely for him to remain home and play for his hometown Sixers.
After the Knicks selected Kevin Knox with the ninth pick, and subsequently booed for passing up on Michael Porter, the Sixers honed in on their man, setting up an amazing story about Bridges and his family.
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“With the tenth pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, the Philadelphia 76ers select Mikal Bridges from Villanova University,” announced commissioner Adam Silver
It was a dream fulfilled and a perfect chapter added to the life of the kid from Pennsylvania. Mikal’s mother, Tyneeha Rivers, is the VP of of human resources for Harris Blitzer Sports and Entertainment, the company which owns the 76ers.
So not only would Philly’s own being playing for his hometown team, he would be playing for the very team that his mother works for. This was one of the feel good stories of the draft.
“Just watching them, especially this year, growing up watching them, going to games when I was young, it’s a blessing,” Bridges said while being interviewed by ESPN. “My mom working there, went to Villanova right around the corner, played in Wells Fargo throughout the whole year this year. It’s just truly a blessing.”
“I’m a little mama’s boy,” continued Mikal. “Her son is right there around the corner again.”
His Mother swelled with emotion and pride as well, which was evident by her expression while on camera with her son.
“It’s amazing,” said Rivers. “It’s an experience I’ll never forget. I’m so excited he’s coming home to be a part of our Sixers family. It’s amazing. Go Sixers!”
She grew up in inner city Philadelphia and had Mikal when she was a 19-year-old sophomore in college. While many would have taken a different path, especially those being from an area in which dreams of college are camouflaged by the clouds of the streets, Rivers refused to give in. She raised her son while in school and worked in a mail room until she graduated.
“I didn’t want Mikal to have to struggle like I did,” she said in a story on Bleacher Report.
So she refused to stop and be complacent, going on to earn her Master’s Degree in human resources and working her way up the corporate ladder to the executive position where she is now.
Even when times were tough for Mikal, like in his freshman year at Villanova, Rivers was right there to give him the inspiration he needed.
“I had my really tough times when I was just as tired.” she would tell her son. “There are times when I wanted to give up, but if I wanted to be successful, I was going to have to push past those moments, to remind myself, like, ‘Self, you got this.’
With a Mom like that, how could Mikal fail?
But professional sports can sometimes be a cruel place, at the very least a harsh reality in business. So unfortunately for Mikal and Momma Rivers, fate dampened their elation with the announcement that he had been traded to the Phoenix Suns for the 16th pick, Zhaire Smith, along with a future selection in 2021.
Sources: Suns have traded Zhaire Smith and 2021 Miami first-rounder to 76ers for Mikal Bridges.
While disappointed, Mikal understood that things don’t always go as planned. He had to “push past those moments” as his mother drilled into his head. He still has a job to do, even if it’s in a different city.
“It’s all right,” said Bridges after the news dropped. “She (Tyneeha Rivers) loves her job, it was cool, but I’m ready to work.”
The Suns clearly were excited, and got the creative juices flowing on Twitter to announce their newest member of the team.
With the tenth pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, the **Phoenix Suns** select Mikal Bridges! Listen closely… https://t.co/TmznALve2z
Although it would have been an amazing story, Mikal was still drafted and his Mother was there to see it. As a parent, what better feeling can you have than to see your child’s dream come true, even if it takes place over 2,000 miles away.