PROUD TO PLAY FOR MY PEO­PLE

$ 65m man Mills misses his chance to play the game for free

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT -

BASKETBALL su­per­star Patty Mills has just signed a $ 65 mil­lion con­tract but is “gut­ted’’ be­cause he won’t get the chance to play for free.

Mills will today be named as an ambassador for the Gold Coast Com­mon­wealth Games where basketball re­turns for the first time since Mel­bourne in 2006.

Mills cher­ishes his in­dige­nous her­itage – his fa­ther is from Thurs­day Is­land – and he is par­tic­u­larly pleased pool matches will be played in Cairns and Townsville where he is about to con­duct a pro­mo­tional tour.

Due to com­mit­ments with the San An­to­nio Spurs in the NBA, Mills will not wear the green and gold at the Com­mon­wealth Games but ad­mits a part of him has turned green al­ready.

“To have a huge tour­na­ment like this where they will visit Cairns and Tor­res Strait Is­lan­ders will be able to go and watch some live basketball games is great for the com­mu­nity,” Mills told the Bul­letin.

“The tough­est thing about the whole thing for me is not be­ing able to play. I’m gut­ted. But be­ing an ambassador is just as good. For a lot of the players it will be a once in a lifetime op­por­tu­nity to com­pete in a global sport­ing event on home soil. I have never done that be­fore.

“For me play­ing in front of fam­ily in North Queens­land is some­thing I have never been able to do ever and I’m hop­ing kids will go along and be in­spired to wear the green and gold them­selves one day.”

Aus­tralia fell short of its first Olympic medal in men’s basketball at last year’s Rio Games but Mills senses the big mo­ment is nigh.

The Boomers will be with­out their NBA stars at the Com­mon­wealth Games tour­na­ment, and while ob­vi­ously not of Olympic or World Cham­pi­onship pedi­gree, it still shapes as a ma­jor step on the road to fu­ture glory.

“( Men’s) Basketball is on the cusp in Aus­tralia,” said Mills.

“We have not yet won a medal at the Olympics or world cham­pi­onships but that re­ally fu­els the fire.

“We have a lot of young boys com­ing through with the right mind­set. They have the right skills as well but the right mind­set is even more im­por­tant when you have to travel to the other side of the world to achieve your dream.”

Three- time Olympian Mills well re­mem­bers his days when he was in­tro­duced to the sport in Can­berra as a four- year- old play­ing with a fam­ily-or­gan­ised team called the Shad­ows.

“I was born into a club which was filled with Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Is­lan­ders and it was where I felt most com­fort­able and the ex­pe­ri­ence has stayed with me to this day,” he said.

“Wher­ever I have gone I feel I still rep­re­sent them.’’

Mills joins Cathy Free­man, Sally Pear­son, Cameron McEvoy, Anna Meares, Laura Geitz and Kurt Fearn­ley as the GC2018 am­bas­sadors.

“Patty is a world class bas­ket­baller, a champion on and off the court and is proud to tell the story of his fam­ily and Aus­tralia to the world,” said GOLDOC chair­man Peter Beat­tie.

“He is the per­fect person to share the val­ues of the Com­mon­wealth Games move­ment and re­in­force our Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Ac­tion Plan ( RAP) ob­jec­tives.”

FOR A LOT OF THE PLAYERS IT WILL BE A ONCE IN A LIFETIME OP­POR­TU­NITY TO COM­PETE IN A GLOBAL SPORT­ING EVENT ON HOME SOIL. I HAVE NEVER DONE THAT BE­FORE.” COM­MON­WEALTH GAMES AMBASSADOR PATTY MILLS

Pic­ture: NIGEL HALLETT

WORLD CLASS: Patty Mills will today be named as the lat­est ambassador for next year’s Com­mon­wealth Games on the Gold Coast.

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