(AP) — Patty Mills really wants no part of the talk that he turns
into a different player when he puts on the uniform of the
Australian men’s national basketball team. He almost rolls his eyes
when he senses the question coming.
He’s heard it
“I am who I
am,” he said.
Here’s who he
is: The leader of an Australian team that certainly has enough
talent to end the country’s 0-for-forever medal drought in major
international competition, the quarterback of a team that came to
Tokyo believing it could win a gold medal, and one of the two
flagbearers chosen by his nation to carry the colors into these
Olympics — the first indigenous Australian to have that honor.
He is Captain
exceptional,” Australian teammate Nic Kay said. “The way he leads
the group on and off the court, the stuff he does behind the scenes
for everyone is unreal.”
His play in the
international game tends to be exceptional as well.
— Mills has
three 30-point games in his NBA career, spanning 829 contests.
— He also has
three 30-point games in the Olympics, all in the span of his last
11 games on sport’s biggest stage.
“Just give him
the ball,” Australia’s Dante Exum said. “He’s an amazing
Mills scored a
team-high 25 points in Australia’s 84-67 over Nigeria to open the
Tokyo Games; the Boomers play Italy on Wednesday as group play
continues. He was the leading scorer in the 2012 London Olympics,
the leading scorer for Australia again at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro
Games, the leading scorer for the Boomers in the 2019 Basketball
World Cup as well.
don’t necessarily support his argument that he’s doesn’t become
better in the international game.
“It’s just the
different roles that I play,” Mills said. “That’s the easy
And it’s not
necessarily incorrect, either. Mills is usually an off-the-bench
player in the NBA, but with Australia he’s usually the go-to and in
the starting lineup alongside fellow veterans like Joe Ingles, Aron
Baynes and Matthew Dellevedova.
“Patty is being
relied upon more here,” Australia coach Brian Goorjian said. “He’s
got tremendous confidence. He’s got the ball a lot more in his
hands. ... He’s a feature for us, for sure.”
easily could be the last major international event for the
Australian core featuring the likes of Mills and Ingles. Mills
turns 33 next month and is already up to 11 NBA seasons, the last
nine of them in San Antonio.
still waiting for the breakthrough medal.
made the bronze-medal game in the Olympics four times; it is 0-4 in
those games. In a 2016 contest against Spain, Mills was whistled
for a foul with 5.4 seconds remaining — replays suggested the call
was questionable — and the Boomers lost on the resulting two free
The team also
played for bronze at the World Cup two years ago, after losing in
double overtime to Spain in the semifinals and then getting
outscored 42-19 in the final 16 minutes against France and blowing
a 15-point lead in the bronze-medal game.
In Tokyo, the
goal is simple: “Tunnel vision,” Mills said, on a medal.
He refuses to
concede that he becomes a different player in these games. There is
no argument, however, that he wants a different outcome this