Patty Mills has capped off an unforgettable year, becoming the first basketballer to win the Don award for his inspirational performance at the Tokyo Olympics. Mills carried the flag and then lifted the Australian Boomers to the nation’s first medal in men’s basketball, scoring 42 points in the bronze medal game in a win over Slovenia. The Don, named after Sir Donald Bradman, is an annual honour from the Sport Australia Hall of Fame selection committee which is given to an athlete or team who inspires the nation and Mills’ efforts in Tokyo certainly met that requirement.
Mills accepted the award from the US where he is continuing to impress with his new NBA club, the Brooklyn Nets who lead the eastern conference with a 15-6 record. “I go about my craft as a professional and learn ways to get better, trying to carry myself in a way that I think can inspire others,” Mills said. “Being recognised in this way to me isn’t about who I sit alongside, it’s about how I can inspire others with my journey.”
Josh Giddey’s dramatic rise from the NBL to the NBA will be writ large for all to see in HOYTS cinemas nationwide from next Thursday, November 25, on Expect The Unexpected: Inside NBL21. Expect The Unexpected will pull the curtain back on the 2020/21 Hungry Jack’s NBL Season and take viewers into the locker room with never before seen footage and interviews. The documentary follows Giddey’s path from rookie point guard with the Adelaide 36ers in the NBL Next Stars program to being selected with the sixth pick in the NBA draft by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Marc Stein: India’s Princepal Singh, the 20-year-old frontcourt prospect who played for the @nbagleague Ignite last season, is finalizing a three-year deal with the @NZBreakers in Australia’s @NBL, league sources say. More NBA from me: marcstein.substack.com
Boomers star Dante Exum remains an outside chance to join the NBL, with the South East Melbourne Phoenix still interested in the veteran guard to fill the club’s final roster spot. Exum’s career is in limbo after he was waived by the Houston Rockets, just a month after signing a three-year non-guaranteed contract with the club.
The Phoenix have spoken to Exum’s manager about his movements and would accommodate him should he decide to return home. The Melbourne-born guard is also a part-owner of the Phoenix and the franchise want to help him relaunch his NBA career with a short-term stint in the NBL.
The NBA’s interest in Australian basketball has reached an all-time high, with the league hiring more multiple scouts to monitor the NBL and the junior ranks. Boomers legend Chris Anstey is one of countless Aussie hoops officials, legends and coaches who have been sought out by the NBA to evaluate and scout talent. Anstey has unofficial roles with Dallas and the LA Clippers, former NBL forward Mark Worthington is with the Washington Wizards while ex-Adelaide 36ers coach Joey Wright has links with several teams, including the Indiana Pacers.