EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Mikal Bridges apologized to Deandre Ayton, Suns after on-court spat

Dec 23, 2022, 12:18 PM | Updated: 12:21 pm
Mikal Bridges #25 and Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns in action against the Philadelphia 76er...
Mikal Bridges #25 and Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns in action against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center on November 7, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The 76ers defeated the Suns 100-88. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Phoenix Suns wing Mikal Bridges offered some clarity and perspective on the end of the team’s loss on Tuesday to the Washington Wizards that drew some national attention because of a few heated verbal exchanges.

With under a minute left during free throws for Washington, Bridges and Deandre Ayton got into an argument. Bridges confirmed after shootaround on Friday this was due to Ayton’s failure to set a screen on a crucial sideline out of bounds play after a timeout with the Suns down five at 90 seconds remaining, and one other defensive play.

Two possessions after the free throws at a Wizards timeout, Ayton continued to fire back at Bridges in the Suns huddle, which brought on head coach Monty Williams telling both of them to calm down and knock it off. The video showed just Ayton and Williams, so given the history there of their own spat at the end of the postseason and Ayton saying he didn’t talk to Williams all offseason, that was taken out of context.

TNT’s Inside the NBA showed the video (but not the part involving Bridges) and that led to Charles Barkley unleashing some of his takes on the team.

Bridges clarified everything, noted he was in the wrong and shared how his own actions bothered him.

“I was totally out of line,” he said. “Being in front of everybody like that, there’s people and players in the league that just do that for show, kind of get on their teammates just so the crowd can see it and I’m the last person to do that. To do that, I feel like it was embarrassment on just DA’s part because I’m just going at him like that.

“It messed me up. It was [expletive] up on my end and I apologized to him and the team after for that. I could have got my point across after when it was just us in the huddle or something like that. It was just [expletive] by me. I never want to do that to one of my brothers, to put them in a situation like that. It definitely [expletive] me up a bit.”

As far as the huddle?

“Mont’ was just trying to control both of us, just getting on both of us and DA was just frustrated,” Bridges said. “I was quiet in it because I already knew what I did and I messed up. He’s yelling at both of us telling us, ‘Y’all two, quit it out’ and stuff like that.”

Ayton and Williams both didn’t address postgame how it specifically involved Bridges but downplayed the discussion and said it was not just a one-on-one thing between them.

Bridges is a beloved teammate and he has referred to Ayton as his best friend. He said while that type of argument was longer than usual, they will get into it and be best friends again five seconds later.

The fifth-year forward said he was just riled up from the whole night, and you could see Bridges even in the second quarter getting uncharacteristically vocal on the court toward his teammates.

“I was just mad and yelling at anything,” he said.

We’ve all been there! Just not with millions watching and hyper-analyzing our actions, which unsurprisingly is where a disconnect can emerge.

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