EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Mikal Bridges, Suns thankful after wing avoids serious finger injury

Dec 5, 2021, 3:18 PM | Updated: 3:37 pm
Andrew Wiggins #22 of the Golden State Warriors is guarded by ph2in the second half at Chase Center...
Andrew Wiggins #22 of the Golden State Warriors is guarded by ph2in the second half at Chase Center on December 03, 2021 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — A lot of hearts sunk into stomachs on Friday when Phoenix Suns wing Mikal Bridges was visibly upset after injuring his finger during the loss to the Golden State Warriors.

Point guard Chris Paul put his arm around Bridges and walked with him back to the bench while head coach Monty Williams checked on the fourth-year wing before Bridges walked to the locker room with a trainer.

Paul and center Deandre Ayton both said Friday they definitely didn’t expect to see Bridges back in the game after that.

“I was just hoping it wasn’t broken,” Bridges said Sunday. “Just praying it didn’t break, but it didn’t, so that was the only thing I was thinking about.”

Bridges, though, returned, and the word on Sunday is that a dislocated right pinky finger is something he should be able to play through.

“I was just so grateful,” Williams said Sunday. “When he got up off the ground, and the look on his face, I thought it was a lot worse than it was. And then I was trying to grab him but Chris was trying to get me back in the huddle and I was just like, ‘Holy smokes, man.’

“And then when they told me he was ready to go back in, I turned around and he was standing there looking at me. I was like, ‘Thank you Lord.'”

Bridges was a full participant in practice on Sunday and had a wrap on just the pinky, as opposed to taping that finger together with his ring finger like he did on Friday. That’s something Bridges and the training staff will tinker with to see what’s the most comfortable while protecting him as well.

The 25-year-old said he initially thought it was just a jammed finger until something felt a little different. Bridges then looked down at his hand and saw everything wasn’t where it was supposed to be. The Suns’ training staff popped it back in once it was confirmed that Bridges didn’t break it.

Bridges said the finger felt much better on Sunday and spoke on the feeling of support he has felt from a team that is very close.

“Just grateful, man. Just the guys here,” Bridges said. “Lot of texts the next day when they asked me how I’m feeling when I woke up and everything and how it’s looking. Just guys checking up, calling in — just a family thing. Not doing it just because they have to. They want to and they care. I know I would do the same for them.”

You can imagine the collective relief for him, the team and the organization.

Bridges is, quite simply, irreplaceable. The value he has for the Suns’ defense in guarding the toughest matchup every night is unlike any other player in the league, and then there’s all of the unique hustle plays, cuts, 3s, midrange pull-ups and so on that he provides too.

Monday’s matchup with the San Antonio Spurs would mark his 251st straight game played, keeping his streak alive of not being out since he was a junior in high school over eight years ago.

While nothing has ever looked as scary as Friday, this is nothing new for Bridges. He’s had his fair share of moments on the court where he’s appeared to injure himself before being relatively fine.

Williams, who played in the NBA for nine years, said finger and hand injuries are something that just comes with time in professional basketball.

When I spoke with Bridges a few days prior to the injury and I ran through some of the listed injuries he’s had, he shrugged off a finger sprain he played through, saying those types of instances are common and nothing noteworthy.

The dislocation is a new one for him and more severe but that doesn’t mean he’s going anywhere.

“I don’t miss games,” Bridges said. “I can only miss it if A) if something was broken or I literally can’t go on the court.”

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