Mitch Creek Makes a Dream Come True With Brooklyn Nets

Mitch Creek put a successful career in Australia's National Basketball League on hold to chase his dream of making it to the NBA. And then he almost didn't pick up the phone.

"It was late at night and almost didn't answer the call because it was a bit late and I didn't know what it was going to be," said Creek in the hours before his first NBA game as a member of the Brooklyn Nets. "Thankfully, it was a call that you dream of as a young man. For me to experience that, and the feeling of emotion afterwards was something I'll never forget and something I'll cherish for the rest of my life."

The call came with an offer for a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets, and Creek made his NBA debut in Friday night's 109-99 win over the New York Knicks, entering the game briefly as an injury substitute for Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and making 1-of-2 free throws.

The 26-year-old forward is one of Australia's top players, earning a spot on the NBL Second Team last season. He's also competed internationally with the Boomers, Australia's national team, where Long Island Nets head coach Will Weaver is an assistant coach.

He made his pro debut in 2010 at just 18 years old and played eight seasons for the Adelaide 36ers before committing himself to playing in the United States this season. He'd tested out the path to the NBA before, attending free agent camps and playing in the 2017 NBA Summer League with the Utah Jazz.

This year, he was all in.

"I just never wanted to be a guy that is 50 years old with a beer on my belly on a dock somewhere near a lake going, 'man, I wish I'd taken that chance. Maybe if I'd done this, maybe if I'd done that.' I've seen it a lot in my life and I've seen enough people have those conversations to me, saying, 'oh, when I was young this happened, but this setback made it not possible.' Everyone's gone through trials and tribulations and for me it was the same thing and it was like, I want to live my life to the point where I have no regrets and I can go out and say I gave my very best," said Creek. "If I played this entire G League season and didn't get a call up then nothing changes. I'd be proud and I could go home with my head held high. Now it's just the icing on the cake right now. Hopefully we can eat a few more cakes along the way too."

So after playing in the 2018 NBA Summer League for the Dallas Mavericks, Creek signed with the Nets for training camp. He played in one preseason game, and after being waived, signed on with Long Island for the G League season. He's averaged 14.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists while starting 20 of 25 games he's played in for the G League's Eastern Conference first-place team.

Weaver has worked with Creek since Australia competed in the 2017 Asia Cup. He lauds the leadership and commitment of a player who brings a veteran vibe to an otherwise young squad. With Long Island, Creek has averaged 14.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists while starting 20 of 25 games he's played in for the G League's Eastern Conference first-place team.

"Versatile. Somebody that not only has a wide range of skills and has the kind of toughness to get things done no matter what it is, but also embraces a challenge," said Weaver. "He's told me often, 'tell me what I need to do to be an NBA player and I'll do it.' That means sometimes boxing out, sometimes leading the break, sometimes setting a screen, sometimes shooting an open 3. Very unselfish. Willingness to do what's required."

Brooklyn rookie Dzanan Musa has played and practiced with Creek regularly over the course of the season on assignments to the G League.

"He deserves his opportunity and he's a humble guy and a guy who deserves everything he gets," said Musa. "He's a very efficient player. He can bring to the table a lot of things; defense, aggressiveness, offense. He can score when he's open. I think he's an NBA player and he will prove that."

This week, Creek got the opportunity to take the next step towards doing just that.

"It's a completely surreal feeling," said Creek. "It's a collection of blood, sweat and tears, hard work, lot of hours, lot of sacrifices and a lot of passion, lot of heart. To feel like you've taken a step in the right direction is a humbling feeling, but at the same time, the job's not done, it just starts. This team's in a great place and on the way up as it comes into the end of the season. We've got a job to do and it's win games at the moment. Hopefully I can be a part of it."