Australian NBA star Patty Mills could barely walk when he returned after midnight to his spartan lodging on the remote South Pacific island of Mer, his ancestral home in the middle of the Coral Sea. The village Elders gave him as thorough a workout as anything meted out by his trainers at the San Antonio Spurs, who re-signed him as their point guard in August for a reported $50 million ($65 million Australian). Mills is second only to Joe Ingles as the highest paid Australian in the NBA, ending last season shooting 41% from 3-point range, 11th in the entire league.
Looking out from the plane window on the approach toward Mer, Mills points out the ridge line of the island and how it ties into the tale. “See, that is the body of the dugong, facing back towards the Torres Strait from where he came,” he said over the wail of the small plane’s engines.
After dance training, Mills rested his aching legs in a deckchair in the common room of the Island Council lodge as he listened to his father, Benny, explain the importance of Meriam Mir culture. “When you see Islander dancing it’s important to understand it’s cultural significance, not only to Meriam Mir people but all people of Australia.” “This is not like doing the ‘bus stop’, it’s about a deeper level of understanding. It’s not just part of Meriam culture but part of Australian culture and something all Australians should have an understanding about — its part of all of us, it’s part of not just being an Islander, but being an Australian.”
Back home in Australia, the 76ers’ Ben Simmons decided to play some competitive basketball Monday night. During an amateur contest in the Melbourne suburb of Greensborough, Simmons poured in 34 points, including 17 in the fourth quarter, at the Diamond Valley Sports Centre, according to multiple accounts in Australian publications.