There’s a phrase in mediocre garage band circles, “Hearing Jimi.” It’s used when a musician really hits a groove or plays well within the rhythm of the song. It refers to a legendary guitarist named Jimi Hendrix who.. well.. played like he was born in the music. It could be said that a basketball player can achieve the same synchronicity in the flow of a game or in their offensive scheme. Lebron James hears Jimi more than any active player. James Harden, in the D’antoni Rockets offense, heard Jimi. Jeremy Lin heard Jimi for three months in 2012.
Miles Bridges is hearing Jimi on the court right now.
You get the tweets because of the massive, earth-shattering dunks he doles out like ice cream on a hot Charlotte day. You watch the highlights on ESPN or probably tik tok or something like that of him hitting clutch shots and passing dimes. And maybe you’ve seen the lockdown defense, such as the kind he played against Jaylen Brown at home in April. But if you haven’t watched a whole game, seeing his commitment in transition or his demeanor after a timeout, you haven’t seen him hearing Jimi.
In a player preview before the season started, I wrote about how Bridges needed to improve whollstically in order to secure his spot on this roster. He would have to get more accurate from the arc and not have disappearance games where his influence isn’t felt. Well, he has done all that and more while carving out an indispensable position on a playoff bound team.
This is the paragraph where you want to hear the numbers behind the statements. You want to hear about his 40+% from 3-pt stat. For the second stat, you want to give an advanced metric that will show growth, like how Bridges True Shooting Percentage is at 63% in 2021 up 11 points year over year thanks, in part, to being more accurate at the line; 85%FT. .Then, maybe, a stat about his gameplay recently, something about how he’s 47% from beyond the arc in the month of April; averaging 19pts and 7.5 rebounds in that time as well. Because that establishes that he’s stepped up in a time of need for the team. Look at the range on this rainbow three from a guy who has shied away from them on occasion:
But that is like giving you the sheet music to Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child.” Sure, you can see the evolution in song craft from the Jimi Hendrix Experience to Electric Ladyland but you have to hear the strut of the guitar to enjoy it thoroughly. And not only has Miles evolved into a more complete basketball player, but he’s become better at anticipating what type of playmaker he needs to be in the flow of Borrego’s offense.
Watch this play against the Celtics, who the Hornets have traded wins against in two games this week. Miles had been dutifully sprinting to the corner in transition a few times by this point. However, when he saw Devonte’ get into the tall trees, he followed and finished a shuffle pass with a, you guessed it, dunk.
Miles Bridges still summits yet to climb. He hasn’t been able to carry the team to wins like Terry Rozier has been able to do this season. There’s a famous line from that “Voodoo Child” song referenced earlier, “standing next to a mountain, chop it down with the edge of my hand.” One can only assume Jimi meant that to be played in the background of a Miles Bridges dunk. In fact, if you listen closely to the clip of this next dunk you can almost hear Miles hearing Jimi.