Mills shortlisting amongst a crop of high-profile Australian athletes – that includes Socceroos star Tim Cahill, surf superstar Sally Fitzgibbons and cricket favourite Mitchell Johnson – caps off a remarkable year for the Boomers guard.
Andrej Lemanis, Boomers Head Coach, heaped praise on Mills for his contributions to the Men’s National team program and the sport as a whole.
“I’m very pleased for Patty that he has been recognised in this way,” Lemanis explained.
“He is a fantastic example of everything you preach as a coach to young athletes – put in the work, believe in yourself, be a good person, stay humble and good things will happen for you.
“His commitment to being the best he can be, the professionalism he shows off the court and the manner in which he conducts himself around others have helped him to be where he is today.
“He has had to overcome injuries and setbacks but has never once complained or whinged – he has always stayed positive and focused on what is next – finding a way to contribute to his team in a positive manner.
“He is a proud Boomer and very proud of his Indigenous heritage – it is a pleasure to listen to him speak about what it means for him to represent both. I am very happy for him and hope that the Australian public get behind him and vote for him to be the personality of the year – he truly deserves it.”
Lemanis also explained that Mills’ shortlisting amongst some of the biggest names in Australian sport is further proof that the resurgence of basketball, including participation and recognition, continues to grow in the Australian public.
“Patty’s nomination is also further recognition that Australian Basketball is truly making it’s mark on the Australian sporting landscape.
“We now have seven Australian players in the NBA, all contributing in a meaningful way to their teams. These guys are all quality people who represent Australia well on the international stage – I think the public are proud of what they do and the way they carry themselves – it reflects well on all of us as Australians.
“These guys are all proud to come back and represent their country in international competition which is yet another reflection of who they are as people. We also have a great crop of young talent coming through – the future of basketball in this country is very bright. The opportunities the athletes have today through basketball make this a truly rewarding sport to be involved in.”
Patty Mills became the first Indigenous Australian to claim an NBA Championship ring when he played a pivotal shooters role in the San Antonio Spurs 4-1 drubbing of the Lebron James lead Miami Heat in June. Game 5 of that series put Mills 3-point shooting prowess on display to the world as he single handily arrested momentum in the third quarter dropping 14 of his 17 game points, of which 12 came from behind the arc.
Already adored by the Australian sporting fan market after he finished the 2012 London Olympic basketball tournament with the highest scoring average (21.2 ppg) ahead of Kevin Durant, Mills and fellow Australian Boomers teammate Aron Baynes toured Australia in July bringing the esteemed Larry O’Brien trophy to its shores for the first time. In a statement to Australian media Patty claimed “This is for Australia”. The 6 day tour visited Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane, Cairns and Torres Strait Island and collectively, provided thousands of unique photo and meet and greet opportunities for Australian fans. Despite earlier shoulder surgery (and a consequential shoulder sling), Patty also led a number of junior basketball clinics during the tour as part of his commitment to Basketball Australia’s Aussie Hoops program of which Patty is the lead male ambassador.
July proved to be a very busy month for Patty as he was also presented with the Keys to Canberra in Civic by ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher. Gallagher publically acknowledged Mills contribution to both Australia and Canberra stating “Patty has made significant contributions to this city both on and off the court. He has mentored and inspired many young people in the community and we are very lucky to have him call Canberra home."
His popularity however does not stop in Canberra. On social media Mills following is significant with almost 160,000 Twitter followers and over 83,000 Instagram followers, establishing him as a prominent Australian sports media personality online. Further to this, Rush Photography is currently filming a documentary on Patty titled “For My People” promoting awareness of Indigenous Australian culture highlighting Mills success as a vehicle for encouraging all young people to follow their dreams.
In capping off a whirlwind 2014 Mills was awarded the 2015 ACT Young Australian of the Year Award in November for his commitment to promoting indigenous heritage. Mills also raised over $40,000 for the Queensland Flood relief campaign in 2010 and continues to support the Australian community wherever possible.