In an 82-game NBA season with four rounds of a best-of-seven series’ to decide the champion, you couldn’t really fault an NBA player for taking a week off during the All-Star weekend.
But for Australian star Patty Mills, the week off has come at a particularly perfect time, allowing him to come back to Australia and help local communities who have been devastated by bushfires.
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The 31-year-old San Antonio Spurs star grew up in Australia before heading to the states to play college basketball. He was picked up with the 55th pick of the 2009 Draft with the Portland Trail Blazers.
He then signed with the Spurs in 2012 following the NBA lockout in 2011.
He’s gone on to win the NBA championship with the Spurs in 2014, and has been one of the main members of the Australian Boomers team.
But despite having had more than a decade overseas, Mills has always kept a strong link to Australia and interest in serving local indigenous communities.
Coming home during his short window off, Mills took to the south coast of NSW which had been ravaged by bushfires.
Broadcasting to his 409,000 Instagram followers and 412,300 Twitter followers, Mills used his reach to continue to shed light on the area which faces a long recovery after the devastasting fires.
But the NBA star admitted “While I’ve continued to stay focused on court, my heart has been in Australia”.
He also went to a local Bunnings and bought some necessities, saying “Generators, torches, portable stoves, batteries, water, non-perishables” are needed in the areas struggling with the aftermath of the fires.
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The Australian fires are leaving an unprecedented amount of devastation. ⠀⠀ While I’ve continued to stay focused on court, my heart has been in Australia. ⠀⠀ Generators, torches, portable stoves, batteries, water, non-perishables: In addition to funds, these are some of the items that the impacted communities need. Now, more than ever, these people need our business. Support local. ⠀⠀ #Australiaisburning
He also went and visited the local communities on the ground.
“Today was heavy,” he wrote on social media.
“We visited three country towns in New South Wales, massively effected by the wildfires.
“In Mogo, a small heritage town on the south coast of NSW, we gave back to locals who have lost their homes, businesses and schools. We also spent time with ADF (Australian Defence Force) as they were passing through.
“We then trekked to Wallaga Lake to build SOURCE Hydropanels to provide clean drinking water for a small Aboriginal community.
“And finally, we ended the day in Cabargo for an opportunity to listen and learn. A local family welcomed us into their home and shared their devastating reality.
“My observation? These people are incredibly resilient and their spirits are through the roof.
“We contributed to Cabargo’s relief centre but once again, it is basketball that has brought us together. #australiaisburning”
Today was heavy. ⠀⠀
We visited three country towns in New South Wales, massively effected by the wildfires. ⠀⠀
In Mogo, a small heritage town on the South Coast of NSW, we gave back to locals who have lost their homes, businesses and schools. pic.twitter.com/EqwpdI8FtB
— Patrick Mills (@Patty_Mills) February 15, 2020
In a video he posted about his trip, Mills said the aim of his trip was about helping return these communities to their feet.
“To bring people together, unity, to help people who have been affected and to be able to do it in a way where we cannot only bring supplies that are needed but a sense of hope for these people that hopefully we can bring,” he said.
It’s an important message and an important reminder.
Mills was the NAIDOC Person of the Year in 2017 and as a proud indigenous man, he has continued to raised the profile of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures throughout his career.
Mills also performed the Welcome to Country at the NBA’s first indigenous Heritage Night in January.
“In an attempt to highlight the need to preserve, protect and promote traditions and culture of all indigenous people throughout the world, I’d like to thank the San Antonio Spurs and everyone who contributed in making this – the NBA’s first ever indigenous night,” he said at the time.
He also used his social media platforms to highlight the bushfire crisis throughout December and January.
Mills has been praised online for shedding a light on an issue that won’t disappear with the fires and will linger for much longer as the communities look to rebuild.
Still plenty of people doing it tough on the south coast. I’m sure Patty’s visit put a smile on faces, if only for a minute.
— Chris Dutton (@BlockaDutton) February 15, 2020
Patty Mills is spending All-Star Weekend in NSW, helping those who’ve been affected by the bushfires, while continuing his work with remote Indigenous communities. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better person in the global sports community. https://t.co/EhPx3BZd8J
— Olgun Uluc (@OlgunUluc) February 15, 2020
Originally published as NBA star helps ease Aussie ‘devastation’
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