Patrick ‘Patty’ Mills made his national team debut in 2007 playing in an Olympic qualifying tournament against New Zealand before moving to the US to play for Saint Mary’s in the NCAA. Mills played a couple more national team games before representing Australia at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games where he averaged a team-best 14.2 points, all off the bench, in the six games the Aussies played.
In 2009, Mills was drafted into the NBA by the Portland Trail Blazers. In 2010 he was an integral player in the Aussies World Championships campaign. Mills is indigenous – his father is a Torres Strait Islander and his mother is Aboriginal from the Ynunga people of South Australia. Mills is the third indigenous athlete to represent the Boomers, after Michael Ah Matt in the 1960s and Danny Morseu who is also Mills’ uncle.
Having joined the San Antonio Spurs and getting experience in the NBA, Mills was set to be a star at the London Games and he did not disappoint. Mills led the tournament in points per game (21.2) beating the likes of American superstars Lebron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant. Australia matched up against the USA in the quarter-finals after winning their last three preliminary matches, going down 119-86 to finish seventh.
Mills became the fifth Australian to win an NBA Championship in 2014 when his Spurs defeated the Miami Heat 4-1. Mills proved crucial to the side throughout the series and scored was the star of the match that clinched the title having scored 17 points.
He returned for his third Olympic Games in Rio and was confident he could help push the side to an historic first Olympic men’s basketball medal for Australia. Mills helped the team begin the competition in style with wins over medal contenders France and Serbia before a close loss to the USA. Mills top scored in each of those matches before playing less minutes in the Aussies win over China and being rested in the side’s victory over Venezuela as the team finished their group in second.
Mills scored 24 as the team secured a 26 point win over Lithuania in the quarter-finals before going down to Serbia 87-61 in the semi-finals. The result set up a bronze medal clash with Spain which went down to the wire. Australia again missed an Olympic medal by the barest of margins as the Spanish scored two free throws with just over 5 seconds remaining to take the final position on the Rio podium. Mills was again the star with 30 points as he finished the tournament with the second highest points per game average (21.3).