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Miles Bridges Press Conference - Quotes

April 13, 2017

Michigan State's freshman Miles Bridges announced his intentions to return to Michigan State for his sophomore season early Thursday evening in front of family, fans and the media.

Below is a full transcript of the press conference:
Michigan State Men's Basketball Coach Tom Izzo and Miles Bridges

Opening statement...
IZZO: Miles' parents are coming but they got stuck in a little traffic and we can't keep this place waiting, I can't believe how many people showed up. I want you to know at 11 o'clock last night I gave Draymond (Green) a call, I tried to call some of the guys that I know Miles talked to like Denzel (Valentine), Gary Harris, and some of the other guys. I talked to Draymond and he said, `Coach, you know when I came back there with the trophy, I did it at Sparty. You're not going to have a press conference in some stuffy room and not include all the students and the fans and the people, are you?' So I called my athletic director and I called my SID and then we had to call the chief of police and everyone else so we could get all of this arranged. And then I had to ask Miles if it was okay with him because Miles is a little shyer than I am usually. I think the one thing he said when he tweeted out- which I'm not a big Twitter guy as everybody knows, I would have just opened my window and yelled it out the window but I guess you have to do what you have to do- one thing he did say was, `you know, I think with the players behind us and everything else, this is a big decision.' I think he has taken a lot of time to think about as you or I would, as everybody would. This isn't about Miles, as he said, this is about his teammates, this university, and it's about all of you. I think before he tells you what's going on and answers some questions from the media, remember this in your life - everybody is going to have big decisions to make, there's a lot of reasons. I can think of some decisions I had to make in my life, and some of you have had to make big decisions already. Where you go to school is a big decision. The last couple weeks what he's going through seems like a small decision and yet you make decisions and maybe he'll tell you why he decided to go to the NBA. Or I mean, why he decided to stay here. I just want to tell you from our standpoint this has been an incredible year for us with a lot of great guys standing over here who have been a big part of it. This year, he has the opportunity to either move on and go where he wants to go or come back and hopefully have some fun with all of you because that's why you're here, you've been a big part of it. So Miles, why don't you speak a bit and I'll sit back and relax.

 

 

BRIDGES: I just want to thank you all for coming out. You didn't have to do all of this but, I want to thank you all for that. I want to thank God for this opportunity. I get to reach my dreams in the NBA or stay here with my teammates. But, I got some unfinished business here. I'm just saying, I want to stay. I talked it over with my mom, my dad, my sister and they supported me. I just want to thank you all again. I can't wait for next year. I have personal goals here - I want to win a National Championship. My teammates are a big part of it. I love my teammates, they've been supporting me and I know they're going to have my back no matter what. So, I can't wait for next year and to spend it with you all.

IZZO: So the saddest part for me because it's a tough decision for anybody, you know. I know the media is going to ask some questions and we're going to let them ask it right in front of all of you so you can see what it's like to be in a press conference. It'll be part of the learning experience for you communication majors and we'll see if we can get COM 100 right here in front of you. But you know, it's tough too because Miles has to think of his family. I think it's been well-said that his mother has had some dreams too and what he's asking her to do is wait about 10-12 months and see what happens then. Him and I have spent a lot of time talking about what the reasons to stay would be, so I'll help the media, there were reasons to stay. Sure, he wants to win a championship but two years ago we had a good enough team to win one and we got beat in the first round. I mean, stuff happens. Those are the kind of conversation we had to have, but when it came down to it and I just felt comfortable he said that he wants to get better, he enjoys college, he loves his teammates, he's been happy here. When you put all those things together he couldn't make a bad decision. His decision thank god was to come. So, I think we'll take some questions from the media. We might even take one or two questions from you guys after.

On what the Spartan family, and this moment means to Miles Bridges...
BRIDGES: Man, it's unreal for me. Growing up as a kid I never thought it would be like this, especially coming from Flint. It's just an unreal experience and I want to thank God for that. Like you said, it's a brotherhood here, it's a family. I love everybody behind me like they're my brothers, like they're my family. I love you all too. There's something special about this team.

On if Miles Bridges was the biggest recruit to come back...
IZZO: You know, the answer is that we landed the biggest fish. But, you know, there will be a lot of people out there that won't believe this, Miles will, our team will, his family will but, I didn't recruit him to come back. It's a difficult thing to be a coach and try to give him the pluses and the minuses. Something happened two nights ago when we had our Academic Gala. We got done with it and I called Miles and I said, `I have to talk to you man' because my job is to make sure he does what's right. For all of us, it's to come back, which that doesn't mean it's necessarily right. As I said all of you are going to have to make tough decisions in your life sometimes so we rode around this campus, didn't we? I took my car and we rode around campus and we just talked about all the reasons to go. It just didn't hit into him. I asked him at the end, `Are you getting tired of me?' He said, `No, I'm not tired of you I'm just tired of the same questions.' I kind of knew then that he really thought it out. I think it was something he thought about all year and yet he didn't put a lot of time aside to think about it. There's nothing wrong with being happy. I always tell a funny story about myself that I didn't even tell him and it's not the job that I could have gone to or this or that. It was when I was in college and my degree was in Education and my mom wanted me to teach. When she found out that I was going to be a graduate assistant she was crushed. When she found out how much money I made she was really crushed. When she found out I was still doing it here at 28 years of age and she all but disowned me. Then some good things happened and my mother is a happy lady now. Sometimes it comes quick. You're in a generation where you want it to come today. I think what I'm proudest of is that he made a decision for himself. There were a lot of people pushing and pulling him. For all of us that were pulling him, there were a lot of people pushing him. He had enough courage, wisdom and enough fortitude to do what he wanted to do. Tonight, we benefit from that.

On when he officially made his decision and when the decision to announce came about...
BRIDGES: It's really all about the students, the people that support us every game. That is why I wanted to do it in front of them. I really don't know (when the decision was made). It was early in the season, like midseason is when I knew that this is where I needed to be. I wanted to get better. I have goals for myself, too.

On when he knew Miles was staying...
IZZO: The strange part about it, and a lot of you have asked me and a lot of people have asked me and I assumed early in the year that he was probably one and done, I can remember telling him on the bus when it was Cassius (Winston) and Nick (Ward) and (Joshua) Langford and Miles. We have a tradition that the freshmen carry the bags for the juniors and seniors. As he was carrying them to the bus one day, I said, `Boy this is going to be nice next year. You guys aren't going to have to be carrying bags, there will be some other freshman carrying your bag.' And I said, `Well Miles, you'll probably be carrying bags in the NBA.' Then one time he said, `Why are you trying to get rid of me?' I do think the beauty of this is that it's not something that happened in one day or one week. The only thing that happened is that a lot of us tried to make sure that he knew everything he was doing. And we didn't give him enough credit and that he's a lot smarter than a lot of us are and I say that with great respect because he never acted like he wanted to leave. I've been around a lot of guys that were 50/50 and this and that, and that's what is hard on me, is I want to make sure they do the right thing. Maybe he can answer that. You asked him if his teammates influenced when he made his decision, I think those guys and I think a lot of people hadn't.

On how much he talked to his teammates about the decision...
BRIDGES: I told my teammates yesterday. The only person on the team that I think really knew was Tum Tum (Lourawls Nairn Jr.). Tum and Josh really knew, but everyone else I told yesterday. I wanted to surprise them. They were one of the main reasons, because I know were going to have a great team. Everybody works hard in the gym and I know they want to win too, so we all have the same goals.

IZZO: Well let me tell you what we've done so far. We all admitted that there are a lot of tough reasons for a guy to make a decision and we all know because of different things that moms and dads and sisters and brothers, everybody has their own opinion. But, I think we see united we stand up here to try to make this the greatest year of hopefully their lives.

On how much the Flint legacy played a factor...
BRIDGES: It means a lot to me because those guys all won at the highest level. I want to win at the highest level too, just like that. Everything was my decision. Coach was going to support me no matter what. It was really personal to me. Nobody made the decision for me. I talked to my family, I talked to my coaches, but it was all my decision.

IZZO: As far as the Flint thing goes, every time I go home, I drive into my driveway and I say I'm not sure I'd have this house if it wasn't for the Flintstones. It's an important part of our life and just to keep that legacy going up there. I think Miles, and I know it's important to his family, we've got some issues in Flint with the water and everything. Now we have a platform here to continue to try and improve that area, and I think that is important to him along with everybody else.

On the possibility of injury and if he thought about an insurance policy...
BRIDGES: Obviously I want to protect myself, because you never know what can happen, so I just want to stay prepared.

IZZO: I think I can answer that, because they are just in the realm of doing that, but in the NCAA and everything, we are afforded the opportunity and he will get the maximum. That's helpful. We don't look at it as an injury happening, but it is some security if it does. That will be done. That's something that we get to do as a university now. Good question and he will have whatever the highest policy is.

On where he wants to improve his game and why he didn't go through the evaluation process...
BRIDGES: I can get better here as well as in the NBA, but I would rather stay here and get better. I have a lot to work on with ball handling and shooting better, rebounding better and just becoming a playmaker.

On how much they talked with Miles in this process and what their feelings are like right now seeing all of these people show up for their son...
CYNTHIA: It has been hard for me. I know I made the statement that I would go to the NBA, but I am not the basketball player, Miles is. I support him 100 percent. We prayed about it. I know God has this.

On how torn he was when making his decision...
BRIDGES: I always knew I was going to make the best decision for myself, whether it was staying or going. I knew I was going to get better, but I would rather stay here and get better with my teammates and become a better person with them. I love college. I love Spartan Nation. I always say that we have the best fans in the nation, so I would rather be here with them.

On how much playing small forward swayed his decision...
BRIDGES: I just want to be versatile. I want to be able to play any position. I don't really have one position that I want to play. That's why I am coming back, so I can work on all of these positions.

On the process of looking at where he'd go in the NBA draft...
BRIDGES: I heard I was either going eighth through 14 but I mean I always knew what I wanted to do and I wasn't going to let anything change my mind.

On how much of this is about his legacy and how much of this was maybe an unsettling feeling on how everything ended this year...
BRIDGES: Yeah I'd have hated to go out like that in the second round. You saw how hurt everybody was because it was a special team. I felt we could have written a special story and that's why I want to write it next year. Legacy means a big thing for me. By building a legacy you have to win and with this group of guys I think we can really win.

On looking at the possibilities of switching playing roles moving from a power forward to a different position...
IZZO: Unlike him, right now I've got a lot of good players back here that probably get along as good or better as any team that I've had here. I've had some very good teams and some very good chemistry but you know with losing Eron (Harris), losing Alvin (Ellis III), is going to be one thing. Tum will be a senior and he's been great and a leader and I think you're going to see incredible improvements out of a lot of guys. Some guys that were injured last year like Kenny (Goins) and Matt (McQuaid) you're going to see improvement. From guys like Kyle (Ahrens) who also was injured but then the freshmen. The biggest jump you make is between your freshman and sophomore year. You're going to see Cassius (Winston) take on a whole new personality. I think you'll see it out of Joshua (Langford) too. We've been beating on Nick (Ward) to lose weight, now I'm going to beat on him to gain a little weight, bring him back a little stronger. Then of course with Gavin (Schilling) and Ben (Carter), we just have a lot of guys that get along and I think the one thing if you asked Eron Harris, whose sitting behind me, that day at Purdue was when I really learned what the seniors meant to the freshman. When I walked out there and Josh and Miles were there and Eron was on the ground, you know, it was something special. I think a lot of times there's jealousy, especially in this day in age and there was no jealousy in that. It was a fun group to coach even though it was tough with all the injuries but when I look at what we've got coming back and I look at the opportunities we have. I told our players, their job now, Miles gave up a lot. His mom is right, Miles gave up a lot and it's our job to make sure he grows as even a better player, better person, better student and we become a better team. You all appreciate that somebody is sacrificing and someday you're all going to have to sacrifice a little bit and somebody's got an opportunity to do something special and he didn't let anyone sway his mind. I tried to sway it in a negative way sometimes and it just didn't work. He's happy with what he's got going, I'm happy for him and I hope you're all appreciative always.

To Izzo on if he has heard anything about Ben...
IZZO: Well first for me, in Ben's case we think we're going to hear something any day but that's totally an NCAA thing. As you know, I want to make sure he doesn't because we can't mention names or anything in recruiting but to be honest with you, whoever said it early is right, the best recruiting we did right now were the guys sitting up here and standing over there. This is a day in age where everybody is bolting and moving and leaving and doing this and transferring and doing that. We've got a family here and we want to make sure everyone in this place here, in fact on this campus, kind of takes on the same attitude. We are Spartans, we are going to hang together and we are going to get some things done. Miles is a great recruiter, Tum is a great recruiter, I'm learning that our freshmen are becoming better recruiters. Kenny and Gavin and everybody else have done a great, great job and I think we will continue to do that. You (Miles) better continue to recruit when you're here and when you're gone you better recruit even harder for us.

To Miles on his contribution to the recruiting process...
BRIDGES: Yeah I've been recruiting. We already got a good recruiting class, Jaren Jackson and Xavier Tillman. I'm going to keep recruiting.

Coach Izzo's closing statement...
IZZO: Let me close it out by saying you guys in the media got a job to do and I appreciate it because I asked you, the media, the fans, try not to bother him too much, let him make a decision. I thought in all honesty you did a hell of a job because you've got jobs to do. I thought you fans did a great job. Make sure you know that mom and sister here, even though maybe deep down I wanted him to come back and she maybe a little bit wanted him to leave but it was all for the right reasons, it was nothing against Michigan State. It was against what you have to do. My mom told me some things, I did 90% of what she said, I didn't do a few things she said but this isn't against anyone or for anyone. That's what the jobs of people are, the adults are supposed to give you guys, the students the best advice they can give you. When you get 18 or 19 years old you have to start making decisions on your own. So as easy as you think it was because you're all happy, this is not an easy decision. A boy makes bad decisions, a man makes good decisions. Maybe the boy that came here turned into a man because he had to make some tough decisions and I think we all respect that. So thank you so much for coming!

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