The date of the 7th of February 2021 will be forever etched in Australian basketball history. Patty Mills will play his 784th NBA game, the most by any Australian, eclipsing the previous record set by Andrew Bogut (783). But the real significance of the milestone transcends numbers alone.
The milestone allows us to reflect on the impact that Patty Mills has had within the NBA and Australia; as a role model, a leader, a pioneer. Mills’ on-court achievements are significant: NBA champion, 12-year NBA veteran, 3-time Olympian, and soon to be the games record holder for an Australian playing in the NBA.
Off the court, Mills has been a leader for promoting Indigenous rights and was recognised as “Person of the Year” at the 2017 NAIDOC awards. Last year, he launched the “Team Mills Foundation,” which aims to support women and underprivileged families, continuing his journey to bring long-lasting improvement to the lives of many. Mills also recently donated over a million dollars of his earnings to support communities in Australia – through Black Lives Matter Australia, Black Death in Custody, and the We Got You campaign. He is a role model for young Australians, sharing morals of ambition, hard work, culture, and community with his supporters.
Spurs guard Patty Mills says he is donating his remaining NBA salary of $1,017,818.54 in Orlando to Black Lives Matter organizations. pic.twitter.com/ugPwExNebM— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 8, 2020
Perhaps one of Mills’ most significant off-court achievements will co-incidentally align with his games record on Sunday. The Indigenous Community Basketball League (ICBL) will commence its inaugural season in Australia – a league aimed at supporting and inspiring junior Australian and Torres Strait Islander children through basketball.
The ICBL is one component of the broader program that is run by Indigenous Basketball Australia, an initiative conceived by Patty in 2019, whose mission revolves around creating a positive environment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples to enjoy a healthy and safe life, and participate in a society free from discrimination.
The 7th of February is a special date for Patty Mills – congratulations. I’m sure Coach Popovic has some special celebrations planned.
Catch you next time.