Nets’ Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson feeling love with return to face Suns

Dec 13, 2023, 12:35 PM | Updated: 1:26 pm

Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson of the Nets...

Mikal Bridges #1 of the Brooklyn Nets reacts with Cameron Johnson #2 after their 114-113 win over the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena on December 06, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

You can take the boy out of the Valley, but you can’t take the Valley out of the boy.

Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson, two pillars of the Suns’ rise out of a decade of NBA scuffling, return to face their former team as members of the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night with emotions still fresh from their February move out of Phoenix in the Kevin Durant trade.

“It’s familiar, I’ll say that,” Johnson said at shootaround Wednesday morning. “A lot of games played here, a lot of wins on this court. It’s almost like you never left.”

The present, however, consumes the pair. Brooklyn sits at 12-10 with a balanced attack, but it is still patching the roster together after last year’s trade.

Bridges’ breakout before and after the trade has continued into 2023-24, though he’s second in scoring (23.1 points per game) for the Nets behind third-year guard Cam Thomas (23.4).

Five Brooklyn players are averaging better than 14 points, including Johnson.

He and Bridges know the moment of their return will hit them a little harder come gametime Wednesday. Bridges was a first-round pick by Phoenix in 2018 by way of a draft-day trade. Johnson was also a draft-day pick addition the next year and was drafted 11th overall.

Familiar faces at the arena and a full crowd inside Footprint Center, they said, will likely hit them. They want to embrace the moment.

“They still show love and everything like that, it’s dope to see,” Bridges said of the Phoenix fanbase. “I watch games and as much as I want to root against them — I can’t. I got guys out there who I want to succeed with Book (Devin Booker), both Lees (Damion and Saben), JO (Josh Okogie).”

Bridges and Johnson will have time down the road to more deeply consider their impact on the Suns, who are 13-10 to start this season in a new era, where Booker is joined by Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal.

The current Nets helped turn around a 19-win team in 2018-19, putting in the work to grow an organization and a fanbase that had been down since the Steve Nash era ended early last decade. Phoenix reached the NBA Finals in 2021 before new ownership sparked a makeover.

Johnson’s best memories from his Suns tenure is the obvious:

“I’d have to say the Finals, those first two wins in the Finals (against the Milwaukee Bucks),” he said. “At that time, we were really on a high. It didn’t end the way we wanted it to but if you capture that moment in time, it’s pretty cool the way the city just loved it, cared for us, enjoyed the process with us.

“It shows you how the league changes. They tell you this all the time,” Johnson added. “It’s a business. It can come at you fast.”


Comment guidelines: No name-calling, personal attacks, profanity, or insults. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate comments by reporting abuse.
comments powered by Disqus

Phoenix Suns

Drew Eubanks #14 of the Phoenix Suns warms up before the NBA game against the Detroit Pistons at Fo...

Damon Allred

Drew Eubanks, Anthony Edwards questionable for Suns’ regular season finale vs. Timberwolves

The Suns listed Drew Eubanks as questionable and Damion Lee as out for the team's regular season finale against the Timberwolves on Sunday.

3 hours ago

Domantas Sabonis #10 of the Sacramento Kings drives against Jusuf Nurkic #20 of the Phoenix Suns du...

David Veenstra

Phoenix Suns center Jusuf Nurkic fined for flopping against Sacramento Kings

Jusuf Nurkic was fined $2,000 for flopping for his actions against the Sacramento Kings at the Golden 1 Center on Friday night.

3 hours ago

Royce O'Neale #00 and Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns celebrate defeating the Sacramento Kings ...

David Veenstra

Here’s what’s at stake in seeding, standings, tiebreakers for Phoenix Suns, Western Conference

Here are the NBA playoff seeding implications for the Suns and the tiebreakers in the Western Conference standings.

5 hours ago

Bradley Beal #3 of the Phoenix Suns brings the ball up court against the Charlotte Hornets during t...

Kellan Olson

Bradley Beal leads big-time Suns response in ugly win vs. Kings

For as much as the last two games looked like the Suns calling it a day on the 2023-24 season, they had at least one more fight left in them.

19 hours ago

Devin Booker #1 and head coach Frank Vogel of the Phoenix Suns...

Arizona Sports

NBA playoff standings: Suns can still avoid play-in with 1 game left

Where are the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference standings? They're fighting for playoff positioning and hoping to avoid the play-in.

20 hours ago


Arizona Sports Video

Video: Bickley Blast: Something feels very different with Devin Booker and the Suns

On the latest Bickley Blast, Dan Bickley asks if a Devin Booker trade request is in the near future.

1 day ago

Nets’ Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson feeling love with return to face Suns