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At his introductory press conference on Tuesday, Mikal Bridges told reporters it was "surreal" to reunite with his college teammates Jalen Brunson, Josh Hart and Donte DiVincenzo on the New York Knicks. Leading up to the blockbuster trade between the Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets, Bridges did not think such a deal would actually happen, he said. 

He did, however, imagine himself in a Knicks uniform earlier in his career.

"I thought I was going to be here in 2018," Bridges said.

New York had the No. 9 pick in that draft, and Bridges worked out for the team. There was speculation that he could land up there, and he called it a "second home" during a pre-draft media session. Four years later, in an appearance on the "Run Your Race" podcast, Bridges said he "wanted to be in New York" and thought it was going to happen.

On Tuesday, Bridges said he thought he'd either be taken by the Knicks or the Philadelphia 76ers, but, since Philadelphia was picking 10th, New York had the first shot.

"I was at the draft and I was like, 'OK, I'm about to go play at MSG,'" he said. "It's that time. I love it there."

In the green room at Barclays Center, Bridges waited to hear his name called. Instead, with the ninth pick, the Knicks selected Kevin Knox.

"I really thought I was going," he said. "You kind of know when you're at the green room at the draft, you kind of know when the cameras are following you or your agents might get the call a little bit before. And they were up, and I just looked at them and they were like -- they kind of just shook their head. And I was like, 'OK.'"

The Sixers selected Bridges 10th, but then traded him to the Phoenix Suns. In the years since then, Bridges has made New York and Philadelphia -- and several teams that picked in front of them -- regret passing on him. And now that he's finally going to play for the Knicks at MSG, Bridges said he's excited to "see my guy Spike courtside." After six seasons in the league, the soon-to-be 28-year-old wing is pleased with how things have worked out.

"I love everything about the team," Bridges said. "Thibs and the crowd, MSG, all that. The history. I think it kind of brings me back to -- I've been in the league for a while and ... being older, you've been around a lot. I feel like now, coming here, it makes me feel like a young kid again, with all the memories. When you think basketball when [you're] young, you think about the old school, like, it's always the Knicks. That's what you always think about."

Bridges, the NBA's preeminent iron man, said he sees "all the jokes" about all the minutes he'll play under coach Tom Thibodeau. He did not sound worried about it.

"I see it all," he said. "But, I mean, it's great. I know Thibs is a great coach. I think one thing: Who doesn't want to play? Who doesn't want to play all the time? It's just who he is and [what] he embodies and how structured he is. That's where I came from. That's high school, college, with coach Monty [Williams] as well. Those guys, I fit for that. I know everybody say all them jokes about Thibs and stuff, but I'm like, 'Y'all must not have been watching me in Phoenix because Coach Monty would play me 48 minutes.' 

"And the man played me 50-something minutes against De'Aaron Fox in Sacramento, and you know how fast they play. And I was sick. I was sick as a bat, literally out there, couldn't breathe, and I'm playing 50-something minutes. I was on the frickin' chair after we won, like laid out. I don't think Monty knew I was sick either. But he was just like, 'Look at him, that's what we do.' I'm like, 'Let's just get on this damn plane, please.'"

Bridges said it was "sad" to leave Brooklyn and that he didn't push for a trade. About 24 hours earlier, Nets general manager Sean Marks had strongly denied that Bridges had asked out

"Sean said everything," Bridges said. "I kind of even tried to say as much as I could when I was tweeting about things and my Instagram post. But no. It's just not how I am. It's just not. That's what it is. So I'm happy Sean had a chance to kind of tell everybody. But no matter what you say, they ain't going to believe it anyway."

Bridges found out about the trade, he said, when he was visiting Dallas. He'd been working out with his then-teammate, Dorian Finney-Smith, and, when the deal went down, he was hanging out with Memphis Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane.

"We was chilling by his little lake house," Bridges said. "Just chilling with his family and stuff. And then the news broke. It was pretty [late], I think it was dark outside or something. But it was crazy. It was wild. He's just over there, like, screaming from far, like, 'Yo, did you see?' I'm like, 'This is crazy.' So it was cool."

Shortly thereafter, he was on FaceTime with Brunson, Hart and DiVincenzo, his new/old teammates.  "Everybody was just geeked up," Bridges said. Now that he's officially a member of Nova Knicks, he just wants to get to work.

"Hate that it's the summer," Briges said, "because you gotta wait a long time to play."