Nets forward Mikal Bridges was already a big part of Villanova basketball history, having won two NCAA championships during his three seasons with the school. On Friday, Villanova further cemented Bridges’ legacy there by retiring his No. 25. “I couldn’t have even dreamed of this day,” Bridges said during a ceremony at halftime of Villanova’s 57-40 win over Maryland in Philadelphia. “First time walking on campus, I promise you, I didn’t think about my jersey getting retired,” Bridges said. “I kind of just wanted to play some minutes, get out there and have some fun. I’m just so grateful.” Bridges averaged 11.3 points over his 116 games with Villanova from 2015-18. He averaged 17.7 points over 40 games as a junior during his final season there in 2017-18 before declaring for the NBA draft, where he was selected 10th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers, who traded him to the Phoenix Suns on draft night. The 6-6 Bridges said his collegiate coaches, teachers, family, friends “molded me to the person I am today.” Bridges, who won championships in 2016 and 2018, follows former Villanova teammates Josh Hart and Jalen Brunson, both now on the Knicks, who had their college numbers retired in 2022 and earlier this year, respectively. Another ex-teammate, Ryan Arcidiacono, had his number retired in 2020. Among those in attendance Friday were Nets coach Jacque Vaughn and teammate Lonnie Walker IV.
Very cool just to see him recognized for being a part of some special teams,” Vaughn said Saturday at Nets practice. “A lot of history at that university, and for him to be a part of that moving forward, have his former teammates acknowledge him, [it was] a pretty cool night for him.” The Nets acquired Bridges last February in the trade that sent Kevin Durant to Phoenix. Bridges, 27, has averaged 24.4 points in his 39 games, all starts with Brooklyn. His 20.5 points per game this season rank second on the team. “That’s such a cool thing,” Nets teammate Cam Johnson, who also came to Brooklyn in the Durant deal, said of Bridges’ number retirement. “The one thing he doesn’t really do is talk about college much when he has all the license to. Won two national championships, so that’s one hell of an accomplishment and achievement and you can’t ever take that away from him. I’m really proud of him.”