BASKETBALL superstar Patty Mills has just signed a $65 million contract but is "gutted” because he won't get the chance to play for free.
Mills will today be named as an ambassador for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games where basketball returns for the first time since Melbourne in 2006.
Mills' cherishes his indigenous heritage (his father is from Thursday Island) and he is particularly pleased pool matches will be played in Cairns and Townsville where he is about to conduct a promotional tour that he is greatly looking forward to.
Due to his commitments with the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA competition in the United States, Mills will not be wearing the green and gold at the Commonwealth Games but he admits a part of him has turned green already.
"To have huge a tournament like this where they will visit Cairns and Torres Strait Islanders will be able to go and watch some live basketball games is great for the community up there and great for basketball,” Mills said.
"The toughest thing about the whole thing for me is not being able to play. I'm gutted. But being an ambassador is just as good. For a lot of the players it will be a once in a lifetime opportunity to compete in a global sporting event on home soil. I have never done that before.
"For me playing in front of family in North Queensland is something I have never been able to do ever and I'm hoping kids will go along and be inspired to wear the green and gold themselves one day.”
Australia fell agonisingly short of its first Olympic medal in men's basketball at last year's Rio Games but Mills senses the big moment is nigh.
The Boomers will be without their NBA stars at the Commonwealth Games tournament, and while obviously not of Olympic or World Championship pedigree, it still shapes as a major step on the road to future glory as a young squad jostles for the right to join players like Mills at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
"We have not yet won a medal at the Olympics or world championships but that really fuels the fire and gives us burning motivation inside.
"We have a lot of young boys coming through with the right mindset. They have the right skills as well but the right mindset is even more important when you have to travel to the other side of the world to achieve your dream.”
Three time Olympian Mills well remembers his days when he was introduced to the sport in Canberra as a four-year-old playing with a family organised team called the Shadows.
"I was born into a club which was filled with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and it was where I felt most comfortable and the experience has stayed with me to this day,” he said.
"Wherever I have gone I feel I still represent them.”
"Patty is a world class basketballer, a champion on and off the court and is proud to tell the story of his family and Australia to the world,” GOLDOC Chairman Peter Beattie said.
"He is the perfect person to share the values of the Commonwealth Games movement and reinforce our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) objectives.
"He has a massive following and is a great addition to the ambassador family already spreading the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games message to Australia and the world.
"He has become an inspiration for young Australians and is a leader in indigenous communities around the country.”
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