Only hours after Kevin Durant scored 29 points to lead Team USA to the Olympic gold, his new teammate Patty Mills scored 42 to lead Australia to the bronze, the Boomers’ first ever medal in men’s basketball. With Mills dominating early, the Boomers defeated Slovenia and Luka Doncic, 107-93, in Tokyo.
Mills, who agreed to a two-year, $12 million deal with Brooklyn three days ago, broke the Olympic medal round scoring record, previously held by Dražen “Praja” Dalipagić who scored 37 for Yugoslavia in the 1984 bronze medal game.
It was quite an achievement and quite the introduction for Nets fans. The 6’2” guard simply dominated across the board, with 42 points, on 11-of-16 from two-point range, 4-of-15 from three and 8-of-10 from the line. He also had nine assists, three rebounds and two steals.
“We’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time and it’s taken a lot of experiences, a lot of ups, a lot of downs for us to get over the hump,’’ Mills said.
“It’s our culture at the end of the day, the Australian culture, our Aussie spirit, the boys being able to hang together and realize what it means to be able to represent your country, for it to come pouring out in moments like this.
“Now that we’ve made it over the hill, this is the standard now of Australian men’s basketball and we take nothing less. We say ‘gold vibes only’ is the standard and we won’t accept anything less on the court or off the court.
“I don’t know whether to laugh, cry or smile. A lot of emotions.
“It’s time to bring an Olympic medal back to our country Australia so I can hang it at mum and dad’s house.”
In addition to KD winning the gold and Mills the bronze, Nets free agent Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot of France, who lost to Team USA, was awarded the silver.
After the medal ceremony, KD and Mills, both team captains, shared an impromptu moment with the Nets superstar noting that the Mills was “coming back to the BK, to the black-and-white.” He then shouted, “It’s gonna be problems for your Boston Celtics this year,” laughing as he looked at an off-camera Jayson Tatum...
KD x Patty Mills “it’s gonna be problems for the Boston Celtics this year”— Talkin’ Nets (@TalkinNets) August 7, 2021
Mills, who hasn’t officially signed with Brooklyn, referred to Durant as “my teammate.”
Australia’s National Basketball League also took note of the upcoming pairing.
And owner Joe Tsai tweeted his appreciation...
Mills performance made Mills more of a national hero than he already was. As the headline in the Sydney Morning Herald Saturday read, “Mills carries the flag, then his nation, and leads Boomers to bronze.” And as London’s The Guardian led its story on the win, “Cometh the hour, cometh Patrick Sammy James Mills.”
Across the country, Mills’ performance was front page news, not relegated to the Sports (or as they call it, Sport) section.
It was an emotional moment at game’s end. The Aussies had finished fourth in the last four Olympics, having never won a medal. Before the Olympics began, Adam Caporn, the Boomers’ assistant coach — and the Long Island Nets new head coach — said the team’s goal was a medal. Mission Accomplished Down Under.
Mills, playing with NBA veterans Joe Ingles, Matisse Thybull and Dante Exum, took over early. After a back-and-forth first quarter, Mills picked up the pace in the second. He hit his fourth three (from 11 attempts) halfway through the quarter and demanded the ball in every possession. He would not be denied.
With Thybulle, the Sixers’ stopper, doing a credible job slowing if not denying Doncic, the Aussies jumped ahead by eight, 53-45, at the half. Mills supplying a little less than half his national team’s points, with 26.
Mills then kept things going in the third adding ten points. With Slovenia trying to thwart his outside shooting, guarding him tightly on the perimeter, Mills simply went to the paint, either scoring or dishing to Ingles who finished with 16. With only 10 minutes left to their first medal, Australia went up to 10.
Then, in the fourth, Slovenia made a run. Led by Doncic, they closed the gap to three. It looked like another nightmare scenario in the making for the Boomers but Mills and Exum, an NBA free agent, hit a three then a breakaway dunk to set them up for an emotional close.
The Olympics was emotional throughout for the 32-year-old Mills. He became the first aboriginal Australian to carry the nation’s flag in the Opening Ceremony, having used his standing as one of Australia’s leading athletes to point out its history of racism and the need to help aboriginal communities.
Following a short wait after the conclusion of the bronze medal game, Team USA, Les Bleus and the Boomers gathered in the middle of the court at Saitama arena, receiving the medals, flowers and hugs from each other.
Not far away from Durant, Mills and Luwawu-Cabarrot were two other representatives of the Nets, the team’s long-time medical director Dr. Riley J. Williams Jr,, team USA’s doctor, and Caporn, the Long Island coach.
- Boomers secure the Bronze medal in a historic win for Australian basketball - Megan Hustwaite - Basketball Australia
- Mills carries the flag, then his nation, and leads Boomers to bronze - Phil Lutton - Sydney Morning Herald
- Bronze Boomers: Magical Mills ends long Aussie wait - Gadiel Notelovitz - The Australian
- ‘I’m bringing a medal home’: Patty Mills’ emotional finish to Boomers’ Olympic history - Mitch Jennings - Canberra Times
- Tokyo Olympics: Australian Boomers finally snap medal drought with win in bronze medal game over Slovenia - Chris Robinson - The West Australian
- Patty Mills leads Boomers to Olympic bronze four decades in the making - Guardian