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Patty Mills wins Australian sport’s highest honor, the Don Award

Australia v Slovenia Men’s Basketball - Olympics: Day 15 Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

After a year in which he led Australia to its first Olympic medal in men’s basketball, the bronze, and became the first aboriginal to carry his nation’s flag into an Olympic stadium, Patty Mills has been named winner of the Don Award, the highest honor in Australian sport.

The award, given by the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, is awarded to “a current Australian athlete or team who, by their achievements and example in the last 12 months, have most inspired the nation.” Inspire, Mills did, both with his accomplishments on the court and off, particularly in his leadership of the continent’s indigenous people. So much so that many Aussies adopted a #PattyforPM — Patty for Prime Minister — hashtag following the Olympics.

Here’s part of the citation posted Thursday.

Mills was the standout performer in the historic bronze match, which saw the Boomers defeat Slovenia 107 points to 93. The Boomers captain did all that he could to ensure his team returned home with medals, scoring 42 points and providing nine assists. It was the second-highest points mark for an Australian at an Olympics, behind only Eddie Palubinskas (48) in 1976.

Mills carried his pride and honour of representing his nation and his people as a proud Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander through the Olympic campaign. That was embraced by the Boomers, who celebrated by way of honouring all Australians with the team carrying the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flag alongside the Australian flag, showing the unity of the team that Mills embodied.

Mills reacted at Nets shoot around.

“It’s beyond sport. For me to be recognized, this is about unity and the impact I think that this can have on the rest of the country,” said Mills. “And I think that’s important, for someone that minorities can look to & be inspired by.”

Since joining the Nets, Mills has averaged 12.2 points a game, fourth highest on the East’s top team, shooting 45.7 percent overall and 47.8 percent from three. He’s currently fifth in 3-pointers made and second in 3-point percentage.

Mills won an NBA championship with the Spurs in 2014.