It should surprise no one that Patty Mills loves Brooklyn, both the place and ideal. He may be from as far away as any Net ever, but he appreciates what he sees, what he feels in the borough ... and relishes the idea of winning a championship for Brooklyn.
Speaking to the Post’s interviewer par excellence, Steve Serby, Mills talked about what he feels about his new home.
Obviously Brooklyn was very appealing to me and my wife for many reasons … something that we connected with from an outside point of view is its culture that’s based around music and fashion and cafes and restaurants and food and art and particularly street art, and how a lot of the messaging and meaning within that street, what it means and what it brings. And then finally coming here and experiencing it for ourselves, seeing how diverse the place is.
You hear different languages that are being spoken when you walk by people. It made for a very welcoming place. It was a seamless transition for us because of the culture. It’s everything that we enjoy, everything that we like. I’d like to say thank you for welcoming a couple of strangers into the Brooklyn community. I’m honored to hopefully winning an NBA championship for this place. I think the only thing is the cold that I’m still getting used to (chuckle).
Does he visualize the moment when the Nets are standing at the pinnacle with the Larry O’Brien Trophy? Oh yeah.
I see holding the Larry O’Brien Trophy with my teammates. I see us having a parade throughout Brooklyn, that consists of going over the Brooklyn Bridge. … These are all things that are just in my own little fantasy world that helps me get up and be a professional and want to win. It’s part of my make-up of who I am. I love winning and I think visualizing all these types of things helps me go about it that way.
And he thinks he can see how Brooklyn will react if that happens.
After being here for only a few months now and talking to people from here, that have grown up here, it would mean the world to them, and that’s what I’m starting to really uncover in myself is what it means to represent these people. I have my own dreams, and I envision it on a regular basis of winning a championship here and how that would feel. It would really be another level of passion and excitement for this place.
Mills, of course, knows what it takes to get to pinnacles. He was part of the 2014 Spurs championship team, along with then assistant coach Sean Marks. Then, last summer, he fulfilled another dream leading the Aussies’ national team, the Boomers, to their first Olympic medal, a bronze, beating Luka Doncic and Slovenia in the process while setting an Olympic medal round scoring record. Serby asked him to compare the two experiences seven years apart.
I don’t think you can compare, to be honest. They’re very different in their own right. It’s a process going through that NBA championship, the year going up to that, losing to Miami the first go-around and then coming back and getting ’em again.
And then you look at the Boomers team and how many decades and years and Olympic games that we’ve gone through that we just haven’t gotten over the hump. I can’t compare ’em, I just know that the feeling of winning an NBA championship and winning an Olympic medal, it makes you hungry for more. And I always ask this question: Do you love winning or do you hate losing? And after winning a championship and Olympic medal, there’s no doubt that I absolutely love winning and will do whatever it takes to win.
And Serby being Serby, he goes through a lightning round with Mills asking his opinion on everyone from Marks to Cam Thomas. Here’s some thumbnail sketches of what he’s seen from them, what surprises him.
How freakishly skilled he is for how tall and long he is. The way that he moves and skill it’s like he does that in a body that’s my height — exactly the same things, just a million times better.
I would say how genuinely excited he gets for the success of his teammates. That’s something that I don’t think I would have noticed from playing against him for so long. But he really empowers his teammates in a lot of different ways. Kudos to his leadership and how far his leadership has come to get to this point.
You can’t read his lips when he tried to talk to you (chuckle) because of his beard! It’s so loud in the arena, sometimes he’s speaking with his mouth but you can’t see his mouth ’cause his beard’s so long.
His ability to use his first quick step, and how he’s able to get by people with his ballhandling. You wouldn’t look at him and say, “Oh he’s got a first quick step,” but he does … deceptive.
He’s an interesting person. He’s someone that you’d want to sit down and talk to and get to know and see where his mind is at. And you figure you’d have very interesting conversations about a whole lot of things...
For me it would be his body movements, his agility. It’s so smooth that … people with Mars probably can connect with it — at times it’s like how is that humanly possible the way that he moves and gets around people?
I love him, mate. I go back with him a long way, obviously playing with him in Portland, getting to know him and his family. Very knowledgeable, very smart obviously from a basketball standpoint, and even more so as a general manager.
An absolute athlete. Very skilled, confident … massive legs (laugh) that give him a lot of power. I don’t have very much meat on my legs, it’s pretty much skin and bone, which Is why I notice those things.
Serby also asked if the Nets get to the promised land without Irving. (No indication in the story about when he spoke to Mills, before or after the Nets decision to use Irving as a part-time player.)
That’s a loaded question, mate. But look, I think where we’re at now, I think we can win a championship with who we have. But those odds increase even more with Kyrie, yeah.
Serby being Serby, there’s a LOT more in the interview — both things he has spoken of before, like his encounters with racism growing up in Australia and his love of coffee — to those that are new, like his feelings about the rivalry with the Knicks.
I absolutely love it. It was my first time experiencing it. It means so much to the city. It’s things like that, when I feel that type of passion and that type of love for the game, I think that’s when I play my best basketball. That’s why I love the rivalry.
And gives a perfectly honest answer when Serby asks the 6-footer about whether he will dunk in a game.
Well, I don’t know if I have the choice. So when you say I still will not dunk, it’s because I can’t (laugh). I haven’t dunked in a game ... After all the running and miles that I have on my legs, I think those aspirations are long gone.
Like we said, there’s a LOT there. Enjoy.
- Patty Mills talks James Harden’s beard, visualization, dealing with racism - Steve Serby - New York Post