Patty Mills ready to etch place in NBA history



After San Antonio's crushing win at Miami in game four of the NBA finals on Friday, Spurs star Tony Parker spotted Patty Mills' parents and said hello.

For a humble family from Canberra, liaising with basketball's greats remains surreal, despite their son's breakout season with the Spurs.

San Antonio can secure the championship with victory at home on Monday and avenge its heartbreaking seven-game finals loss to the Heat last season.

It would confirm Mills and teammate Aron Baynes as only the third and fourth Australians to win an NBA championship ring.

Point guard Mills would become the first indigenous Australian to achieve the feat.

His parents, Benny and Yvonne, were in the stands for game four and will be again when in game five San Antonio looks to lock up the series.

They're still coming to terms with being on a first-name basis with superstars like Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili.

"We know all the players and they're very welcoming and acknowledge us, even after the last game Tony came over and said hello,'' Benny said from Miami on Saturday.

"Absolutely [it's still surreal], they're guys Patty looked up to and now he's there with them.''

A mystery foot injury and being back in the Spurs pecking order meant Mills had minimal impact in last year's NBA finals.

He was better known by outsiders for his towel-waving theatrics than his starring play-off displays from the bench this campaign.

Benny said a desire to break out of that pigeon hole drove Mills and his game-changing cameos have prompted praise from Heat superstar LeBron James.

"That was part of the motivation to do something more over the off-season,'' Benny said.

"He always knew he had the capability to give more to the team, it was what could he do to convince others he can play?

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said the reason he didn't play Mills often before this season was ''because he was a little fat ass''.

The 25-year-old's hard work has paid off, and his impact has been so important Popovich often says they wouldn't be in a title-winning position without him.

"There's been more made of that comment by 'Pop' than it essentially was,'' Benny said.

"He decided to trim down so he'd be in a better position. It was basically him deciding he needed to do something more to put him in the best position to be the back up [point guard] to Tony.''

Mills began his NBA career at Portland, but joined the Spurs in 2011-12 when Portland opted not to include him on their roster.

He attracted interest from a few other clubs, including Houston Rockets, but the Spurs title run has vindicated his choice.

"He was pretty set on getting back in the NBA,'' Benny said.

"Pop knew him since he had played at the Olympics, and saw how well he played against the USA.''

Benny said Mills, a free agent after the NBA finals, is yet to make any calls about his future.

It looms as the toughest decision of his career, as his form will attract big offers from rival teams.

"It's something he's not focussed on at the moment, he's totally focussed on the finals,'' Benny said.

"Once they finish, he'll have a look at things.

"He's done well with the Spurs, and no doubt that will be a factor as well.''

This story Patty Mills ready to etch place in NBA history first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.