Miles Bridges probably knew that his announcement at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Sparty Statue would be a big deal.
But maybe not this big of a deal.
After all, a single tweet wouldn’t normally draw hundreds of thousands of people to a single spot with less than seven hours’ notice.
But that’s exactly what happened on Thursday evening in East Lansing, as an estimated crowd of almost 2,000 students, alumni and media gathered as the freshman phenom from Flint, Mich. announced that he would be returning to Michigan State for his sophomore season.
Michigan State students were excited about Bridges’ choice to return, but were also blown away by the atmosphere at the Sparty Statue.
“I mean, the vibes couldn’t have been better,” Jesse Yaker, a junior political science major, told Impact 89 FM. “Everyone loves Miles. He’s one of the most liked people on campus for a reason. Everyone loves the basketball team, but Miles is just a great guy. He’s always in a good mood, and you seem him around campus and he’s always bouncing around looking happy. To see that we’re getting another year out of him, it’s just a blessing.”
Junior economics major Aaron Litt did not attend any basketball games this past season, but with the news of Bridges’ return now official, he can’t wait to get inside Breslin Center next fall.
“Of course, I’ll go to a lot of games next year,” Litt said. “We have a great team coming back, some nice depth that we didn’t have last year. Plus, Bridges and the young guys coming back as well as recruiting. It should be a good year.”
Litt also stated he was expecting Bridges to return for another year due to some rumors that came out earlier in the week, but was more shocked at the support from the student body.
“Today was a sight to see,” Litt said. “It was unbelievable, honestly. There was and is so much support for him, and it was great to be here with him.”
Freshman media and information major Elizabeth Marks enjoyed the event so much, she told Impact 89 FM that it reinforced her decision to come to MSU, coming all the way from Deerfield, Ill.
“This is one of the reasons I came to this school, because of the athletics and the energy that comes along with it,” Marks said. “I just can’t stop smiling!”
Dana Gilbertson, an elementary education major, hadn’t been exposed to any form of Michigan State athletics before Thursday. But now, she says, she’s hooked.
“I love the energy of the students,” Gilbertson explained. “I think it’s so cool to show support for our fellow students. Because that’s what Miles is. He’s my age, too. And to be able to support them in this type of atmosphere is exciting.”
Gilbertson says she plans to attend many games next year now that she sees how big of a deal the basketball team is.
“The energy,” Gilbertson said. “I mean, I’ve seen it first hand, I think it’d be so much fun to go (to a game). And now that I see the hype surrounding something like this, I have to go.”
Alex Yelon, a junior hospitality business major, decked out in Spartan basketball gear, wouldn’t have missed the event for the world.
“Miles took over and told everybody what he was intending to do was just really cool. It not only made the students feel good, but the MSU community as a whole feel connected.”
Before Bridges entered the stage, students began chants of “Mi-les Brid-ges!” that emanated throughout campus. Bridges’ Spartan teammates were documenting the moment on their phones as well. There wasn’t one player without a smile on their face.
"Mi-les Brid-he's!" chants going on. pic.twitter.com/gd5UOeUmB9
— Davey Segal (@DaveyCenter) April 13, 2017
“Everybody was excited when he came out,” Yelon went on to say. “When his family came out, it almost felt like everyone else there was a part of the family, too.”
— Davey Segal (@DaveyCenter) April 13, 2017
Despite becoming a “true MSU basketball fan” just on Thursday, Gilbertson echoes the expectations of many die-hard Spartan fans now that Bridges will don the green and white for at least one more season.
“We’re going to the national championship next year,” she stated.
Maybe MSU will, maybe MSU won’t. That remains to be seen.
But Bridges could have done it in a confined press room. He could have had a script with written statements and answers. He could have had it closed to the public. But he didn’t. It was a happy-go-lucky atmosphere for everybody involved. And that’s what he wanted.
Just like his tweet said: “It’s not about me, it’s about us.”
— Miles Bridges (@MilesBridges01) April 13, 2017
He also stayed for about one hour after the press conference concluded to chat with fans, take pictures and sign autographs.
“I got some unfinished business,” Bridges said. “I want to stay […] I can’t wait to get started.”