Patty Mills received an Order of Australia in 2022
(Image source: Sportingnews.com / MATTHEW ADEKPONYA/GETTY IMAGES)
Patty Mills AM
Here at Vortex, we are not just makers of fine basketball uniforms - we are also huge fans of the sport. We follow both national and overseas leagues, and we never cease to marvel at the talent displayed on the court week after week. To celebrate some of our favourite basketball champions, we’ll be publishing a limited series of player profiles over the coming months, featuring top talents from Australian and beyond.
Starting on our home turf, our first player profile features none other than Australian Basketball legend, Patty Mills.
Discovering the sport
Born in Canberra in 1988 to Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal parents, Patrick Sammy Mills showed a keen interest in basketball from a young age. Mills first started playing at only four years old, at a local Indigenous club called “The Shadows,” which was started by his parents. An athletically gifted child, Patty participated in many sports growing up, including AFL, cross country running and basketball. We suspect he first had his eyes on an AFL career, as it was not until he was offered a scholarship by the Australian Institute of Sport in 2005 that he gave up footy and truly committed to his basketball career.
Even before he was offered a scholarship, Patty showed real talent. He was an All Australian Junior Basketball representative between 2003-07. With pure speed and a lethal long-range shot, Patty captained the U19 Australian National Basketball Team at the World Championships in Serbia in 2006/2007.
Patty would soon go on to be accepted into the prestigious NCAA institute of St Mary’s College (Gaels) in the United States. In 2007, in his opening season for the Gaels, Patty set a freshman record for the most points in a season (472) as well as most points in a single game (37, v Oregon).
Patty declared himself for the 2009 NBA Draft, where he was selected as the no.55 overall pick by the Portland Trailblazers. He found limited opportunities in his first year at Portland, instead honing his craft in the seconds team, the Idaho Stampede (NBA D-League).
In an interesting twist of fate, the 2011 NBA lockout (which lasted for more than 6 months), actually proved to be beneficial to Patty Mills. It forced him to return to Australia, where he went on to play for the Melbourne Tigers. This stint back home was short lived, however, as he was quickly persuaded to join Chinese basketball powerhouse Xinjiang FT for the 2011/12 season.
His talent and skill in these two competitions did not go unnoticed back in the United States, and he was recruited back to the US in less than a year. This time to play for San Antonio Spurs, under legendary coach Gregg Popovich.
Mills quickly became a key player off the bench for the Spurs and helped them win the 2014 NBA Championship against the Miami Heat. He stayed with the Spurs for over a decade, before recently joining the Brooklyn Nets (in 2021).
Despite his great success overseas, however, he didn’t miss the chance to compete alongside his fellow Australians in the Tokyo Olympics 2020. As team captain, he led the Aussie team to their first ever bronze medal victory, in a 107-93 win against Slovenia. Patty himself scored 42 of said points in a pretty epic performance.
Off The Court
In addition to all his achievements on the court, Patty has always been an excellent leader and advocate for Indigenous communities. In 2021, he was awarded the NBA Cares Community Assist Award for his efforts to improve opportunities for Aboriginal youth in Australia. Only a year later, he received an AM (Member of the Order of Australia) for his service to basketball, and his charitable initiatives for Indigenous communities. These are significant awards, yet they are only two examples of a very long list of achievements on Patty’s CV.
Needless to say, Patty is one of our personal heroes. His passion and commitment to the game as well as social justice for Aboriginal peoples proves he is not only a fantastic player, but a great person too. A force both on and off the court, we’re certain Patty will continue to inspire young minds and players for decades to come.
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