Patty Mills Honored with Australia's Prestigious The Don Award

Nets guard led Australia to first Olympic medal last summer

Patty Mills and the Australian men’s national basketball team chased their first Olympic medal for a long time. Mills was in his fourth Olympics this past summer, after a near-miss fourth-place finish in 2016, when he and the Boomers broke through in claiming the bronze.

After that triumphant summer on the global stage, Mills has been named the 2021 winner of The Don Award, Australian sports’ highest honor, presented by Sport Australia’s Hall of Fame at its annual induction ceremony.

“It means a lot, and I've said this before, but it's something that as an athlete, you don't set out to achieve these kinds of awards,” said Mills. “They’re recognition of everything that you do on the court and off the court and everything else, but I think the recognition isn't necessarily about myself. It's about the people that I try to inspire along the way and doing it in a way that I think how I carry myself — hopefully that can inspire certain people, especially everyone in Australia.”

In its fifth appearance in the bronze medal game, Australia defeated Slovenia 107-93 as Mills scored 42 points with nine assists. Australia went 5-1 in Tokyo, with its only loss coming in the semifinal round against the eventual champion United States team, as Mills averaged 23.3 points per game.

When Mills made his national team debut in 2007, he became the third Indigenous player to do so, and 14 years later he became the first Indigenous member to carry the Australian flag at the opening ceremony. When the Boomers captured their bronze medal, they celebrated with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flag in addition to the Australian flag.

“It's one of those things that you go about your work, and I go about my craft in how I think is the right way to go about it,” said Mills. “But the recognition —this level of recognition — I think is about beyond basketball, it's beyond sport. For me to be recognized, this is about unity and the impact I think that this can have on the rest of the country. And I think that's important, for someone that minorities can look to and be inspired by. They can see as evidence as something that can be achievable and they can start dreaming and working their way on what the best path for them to go achieve certain things is. So I honestly think that it's more about basketball, it's more about sport. And hopefully we can continue down that road.”

Mills is in his 13th NBA season and first in Brooklyn. He’s averaging 12.2 points and his 47.8 3-point shooting percentage is second in the league.

“He’s been an incredible addition to our team, not just on the floor but with his spirit, energy, passion,” said Nets head coach Steve Nash. “His motives are so pure. He wants this team to do well, he wants to see his teammates thrive, he wants to help the group. So it’s no surprise he’s Australian of the year.”

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