‘Ton of raw emotions’ as Mills hand delivers Olympic medal to his family
Patty Mills had a homecoming two years in the waiting, and 33 years in the making, on Thursday.
With his free agency move to Brooklyn Nets decided, his Olympic bronze medal in hand and two weeks of quarantine over, Mills finally got to see his parents Benny and Yvonne for the first time in two years.
Mills, 33, led the Boomers to their first Olympic medal in Tokyo and while his parents had been at his side throughout his basketball career, they were left to watch from Australia as he and swimmer Cate Campbell carried the flag in the opening ceremony and the Boomers won their drought-breaking medal.
But Mills won’t get more than a week or two with his parents and his wife Alyssa before NBA duties call.
“I’m super fresh out of quarantine, I only got out yesterday, so to be able to be with the family, yesterday and last night was just a ton of raw emotions,” Mills said on Friday.
“Being able to deliver, hand deliver, an Olympic medal to our country and to my family – there was a lot of emotions, a lot of tears as you can imagine, but on top of all of that I’m just excited to be back home and see the family again. In a COVID world, it’s been quite tough.
New Brooklyn teammates Patty Mills and Kevin Durant at the Tokyo Olympics.Credit:Getty Images
“I’ve also got my good Australian coffee which I’m also very excited about in Brooklyn, knowing how many good local mum and pop coffee cafes it has.”
The delayed Olympics and the late finish to the NBA season meant free agency occurred during the Olympic campaign, so Mills had to make a final decision to leave the San Antonio Spurs, and coach Gregg Popovich, where he has spent the past 10 years during the tournament.
He will join one of the highest-profile teams in the league with superstars Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irvingon board, and two-time MVP Steve Nash coaching the side.
Mills wants to add more championship rings to his collection after starring for the Spurs in their 2014 title.
“It’s super exciting just to know you’re in a position where you’re playing for something each and every day,” Mills said.
“It’s a competitive fire underneath me that welcomes the spotlight, welcomes those big moments.
“It’s never going to be a smooth sailing ship, there’s going to be ups and downs and I think one of the most important things to understand is not to ride the highs too high and ride the lows too low – it is a marathon and if you can just try to steady the ship as you go. That’s how you’ve got to go about it.”
Mills’ 42-point masterpiece in the bronze medal win over Slovenia sits with the finest performances of his career but it also caught plenty of attention around the NBA where people had come to expect Mills to score 12-15 points in 15 to 20 minutes each night.
When Mills does his scoring will matter more to the Nets than how much as they want him for his ability to score in pressure moments. He also plans to play a big role in growing the team culture in a side that has been almost completely turned over in the past two years.
“The conversation that I’ve had already had with Kevin [Durant] was so pure and so genuine and being able to understand that he’s such a pure ‘hooper’,” Mills said.
“The role and leadership position, I’m in it with the Australian team, is one thing and after a good Tokyo Olympics campaign I’m able to ride the wave of that momentum and take it into Brooklyn and that is something that I’m looking forward to as well.
“Being amongst the best players in the world, it’s a really exciting opportunity I think I’ll be able to thrive off.”
In NBL news, Boomers star Matthew Dellavedova confirmed he will join Melbourne United for the upcoming season in November.
Dellavedova was allowed to join NBA free agency and see what his options were but has decided to come home to Victoria for this season.
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