I don’t have a favorite NBA team. There is no fingernail biting or throwing of remote controls in my home when viewing the league. What I do have is players whom I most enjoy watching. Two of them used to be LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges. I used to always look forward to the Charlotte Hornets’ 4 p.m. PST games.
After a season apart, the two players were reunited on the court last week. I watched them on Monday night take on the team with the best record in the NBA, the Boston Celtics. That first half reminded me of why during the 2021-22 season I tried to catch as many of those late afternoon games as possible.
Ball is still one of the most exciting players in the league. His no-look passes, ankle breakers, and shot-making I assume will be on the floor for more than 36 games this season. The spice on the mic from Eric Collins and Dell Curry turns the experience into a party. The game felt like the 2021-22 season all over again — before of course turning on Monday Night Football because I’m an American and Patrick Mahomes was playing — until the moment I noticed Bridges and his No. 0 jersey.
He would hit the go-ahead 3-pointer in overtime, giving the Hornets their biggest win since back when he was a rising NBA star. His acrobatics and scoring ability were the perfect complement to Ball’s wizardry running the offense.
Bridges was in line for a nine-figure payday in 2022 as a restricted free agent, and ended up missing the entire season after pleading no contest to one felony count for causing injury to a child’s parent.
Bridges will be back in court to face charges that he violated the terms of his plea agreement. He was sentenced to three years probation and ordered to stay at least 100 yards away from the mother of his children for 10 years. It was alleged in October that he violated those terms.
In November Bridges turned himself in for a warrant that alleges he violated the terms of that plea agreement back in January, a warrant that had not yet been served. What followed was a criminal summons for the October allegations. Bridges’ attorneys were able to get his November appearance in court postponed until Feb. 20, 2024, by filing a motion to produce exculpatory evidence.
That information alone, without any of the details and pictures of the alleged abuse, should have been enough to keep Bridges off of the court at this time. He has been issued a sentence by a court of law for committing a crime. He is currently awaiting a court date, because of allegations that he did not adhere to that sentence.
Bridges is not incarcerated, but he is by no means a free man. His movement is legally restricted. At minimum, until this most recent legal matter has reached a conclusion he should not have been allowed to play.
Instead, the NBA decided to suspend Bridges for 30 games, and deemed that 20 of those had already been served even though he never signed a contract to play in the league last season. The Hornets decided to extend him a one-year qualifying offer, and he is back to playing 35-plus minutes per night for them.
For me, the energy I had for those 2021-22 Hornets is gone forever. I will still turn the games on to watch LaMelo, but no sauce provided by his playmaking, or the commentary of Collins and Curry can overtake the bad taste in my mouth from seeing No. 0 on a basketball court.
The only court that he should see until at minimum Feb. 20, 2024, is a courtroom. The least that the NBA could have done was make sure that Bridges answered for allegations that he refused to pay his debt to society.