Miles Bridges apologizes while Mitch Kupchak addresses forward’s ‘polarizing’ return to Hornets after domestic violence plea

Miles Bridges, seen here during a 2022 news conference, addressed media directly on Tuesday for the first time since his domestic violence arrest. (Alex Slitz/Charlotte Observer via Getty Images)
Miles Bridges, seen here during a 2022 news conference, addressed media directly on Tuesday for the first time since his domestic violence arrest. (Alex Slitz/Charlotte Observer via Getty Images)

Content warning: The following article contains graphic descriptions of alleged domestic violence.

Miles Bridges faced media on Tuesday for the first time since his 2022 arrest on domestic violence charges that ultimately led to him missing all of last season.

Bridges is back with the Charlotte Hornets after signing a $7.9 million qualifying offer for the 2023-24 season. He and Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak — who orchestrated Bridges’ return along with fellow team leadership — sat side by side while speaking with reporters during a news conference.

“I want to apologize to everybody for the pain and embarrassment that I have caused everyone, especially my family,” Bridges said in an opening statement. “This year away, I’ve used it to prioritize just going to therapy and becoming the best person I can be, someone that my family and everyone here can be proud of.

“I want to thank the Hornets organization and the NBA for giving me a second chance. A lot of people don’t get a second chance, and I want to use this second chance to prove to everyone that I’m the same kid you drafted five years ago.”

Bridges was arrested in Los Angeles last offseason on charges of attacking his wife Mychelle Johnson in front of their children. Johnson posted since-deleted images on social media of injuries that she wrote included “a fracture[d] nose, wrist, torn eardrum, torn muscles in my neck from being choked until I went to sleep and a severe concussion.”

Bridges ultimately pleaded no contest to a charge of domestic violence toward a spouse or other cohabitant in a plea agreement with prosecutors. He was sentenced to 100 hours of community service, domestic violence counseling and parenting classes and forbidden from owning a firearm or any dangerous weapons. He did not serve jail time.

Kupchak addressed the decision to bring Bridges back to the franchise on Tuesday.

“The decision to extend the qualifying offer took a lot of time to sort through, a lot of measured thought with ownership, people within the organization,” Kupchak said.

He cited Bridges’ compliance with the legal conditions of his no-contest plea alongside his “remorse and accountability” and vow that “this would never happen again.”

“I believe Miles when he said that,” Kupchak said.

The NBA conducted an independent investigation and suspended Bridges for 30 games. The league considered 20 games of the suspension already served because of his missed time last season. He’ll open the new season serving the final 10 games of the ban.

Kupchak addressed the reality of employing a who pleaded no contest to a violent crime.

“Obviously it is a polarizing topic and I understand how everybody may not agree,” Kupchak said. “It’s a tough situation to be in.”

Bridges is aware that not everyone is happy to see him back.

“People think I don’t deserve a second chance, and I understand that,” Bridges said. “That’s why I’m trying to use this year to prove to everybody just who the person that I am.”

Bridges returns to the court a year removed from a breakout season that saw him average 20.2 points, 7 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game in 2021-22, his fourth NBA season. The Hornets finished 43-39 that season. It remains their only winning campaign since 2015-16.

Because he signed a qualifying offer instead of a long-term extension, Bridges will enter next offseason as an unrestricted free agent. Kupchak noted that the Hornets will retain his Bird rights, allowing the team to offer Bridges a larger contract than other teams if they choose to do so.

“From a basketball point of view, putting aside the serious nature of what took place, we are excited to get him back,” Kupchak said. “He had his best year ever two years ago. We are excited to get him back.

“Whatever it is to deal with a year from now, we’ll deal with it a year from now.”