After nine seasons as a professional basketball player in Australia, Mitch Creek ventured across the Pacific for a chance at his dream, the NBA ... even though he know admits he didn’t always believe in himself.
Although he had previous summertime stints with the Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks, Creek hadn’t fully bought into the idea of him competing on the NBA level until he was officially offered his first 10-day contract – which he thought was a joke – on January 25.
As the Twitter account of Australia’s NBL said, “all of the feels.”
All of the feels.— NBL (@NBL) January 26, 2019
Let’s be honest, it's hard to find words when you get the phone call you’ve been waiting your whole life for.
This is the moment @BrooklynNets GM Trajan Langdon told Mitch Creek he was about to realise his NBA dream.#NBLxNBA @CreekMitchell pic.twitter.com/H8qcN99tU3
That, of course, is the final product, the emotional bang from all that stockpiling of weapons. Creek admits it took some honest reappraisal after some sports psychology.
It was all unlocked by Dean Evans, a sports psychologist, who Creek has worked with for the last five years.
“He said, ‘If you’re gonna be an NBA player, you’ve gotta believe it, and I never believed it,’” Creek admitted to NetsDaily after Tuesday’s team practice.
“It took me a long time to actually see the light and it’s taken me up until (now) to see it,” he added with a laugh. “You hear people say, ‘if you can do this, you can do that,’ but at the end of the day, if you don’t believe it yourself, what’s the point? Superficial confidence is different to internal confidence. It’s a big f—king difference. Excuse my French.”
Creek logged 15 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals in 30 minutes in a Barclays Center-held Long Island Net loss to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. The game began at 11:00 A.M. Later that day, interrupted by an afternoon nap, he played in the Brooklyn Nets loss to the Milwaukee Bucks ... and Giannis Antetokounmpo, when Creek had his best NBA showing: eight points, five rebounds and four assists in 15 minutes.
Meet the Freak, Mr. Creek.
“I mean, sh*t, Giannis came down and tried to post me up four times on the mid-block and he’s an absolute beast,” Creek offered with a smile, regarding his encounter with the Greek Freak. “I was talking to (Long Island Nets assistant coach) Scott Simpson and I was like, ‘it’s crazy. You look at these guys, you see him on TV your whole life and I’ve watched basketball for a long time now and now I’m running around playing against these guys … it’s pretty cool; you’re bumping chests and you’re running next to each other, trying to knock each other’s heads off.”
Although Creek was waived on Thursday, he drew favorable reactions in just 13 days. And there is a possibility he could be resigned to a conventional NBA contract.
”He adds culture to our locker room,” head coach Kenny Atkinson told reporters of Creek on Monday prior to taking the court against Milwaukee. “He adds toughness (and) smarts. I have no qualms about putting him in there. I trust him. I love what he represents.”
Creek credits his 10,000 mile journey from Adelaide to Brooklyn primarily to Long Island head coach Will Weaver, who had coached him with Australian Boomers in FIBA play.
“I respect his acumen, his diligence and his toughness,” Weaver said of Creek in December. “I rely on him heavily to get this team where we want it to go. Of the things that are the most appreciated about Mitch, his relentless process-oriented approach is great.”
And Creek’s Long Island teammate, Theo Pinson, recently had kind words for Creek to ESPN Australia’s Nick Metallinos.
“One of the best teammates I’ve ever had,” said the North Carolina national champion to Metallinos. “Every single day he’s been a great guy in the locker room, so you can’t go down to Long Island and be like, ‘How’s Mitch? Oh, he’s an a—hole.’ You won’t ever hear something that that.”
Creek told NetsDaily that during his time in the States, his main focus has been to find comfort in uncomfortable situations. The advice was bestowed on him by Dr. Evans, the sports psychologist.
“It’s hard to put yourself in a position where you might intrude or you might step on toes. You have to enjoy the fact that being comfortable in uncomfortable situations is a part of life, and that’s me. I’m comfortable with being uncomfortable. I don’t care if I push you off … this is my life, this if my job. This is what I wanna support my family with,” he elaborated.
“You put yourself there and you immerse yourself in the role of being uncomfortable. If you fail, then you learn. If you don’t, then you succeed and you can learn from your success.”
And although he’s back on Long Island, he doesn’t take any opportunity at either level for granted. Given his recent track record, another NBA contract could arrive in his near future.
“It was never guaranteed here,” he said, humbly. “It was just, you go to Long Island, you work your ass off, and you just see what happens. You take a half-million-dollar pay cut to come at make $35,000 for a chance. And that’s all it was, just a chance to say, ‘At the end of my life, I did everything I could to be as successful and reach my goals.’
“I didn’t wanna be that guy that’s 50 years old on my lake, retired, drinking a beer with my big belly, not even hands free, I could just tip that b*tch out,” he said. “I didn’t wanna be that guy that said, ‘Oh, I could’ve played in the NBA but I didn’t.’ I wanted to see for myself if I was good enough.”
And even if it was only for two glorious weeks, he made it.
- No Regrets: Back to Long Island but Creek has made his mark - Nick Metallinos - ESPN