Aussies in the NBA: Patty talks Spurs, Under Armour, White House and more

Patty Mills is certainly hot on the interview radar this week. Right after Kamal's interview, Benyam from Believe The Hype caught up with Mills, right before the All-Star Weekend rolls around in New York.

Patty was very obliging and friendly as always, and variety of interesting topics were discussed, including the Spurs' focus on home court advantage, president Obama's sense of humour, the process of signing with Under Armour and how his address to the San Antonio crowd on Martin Luther King Day felt.

We can all see that Patty isn't quite back to last season's form yet, and it's good to hear the man himself preaching patience. Like what you would imagine, the Spurs aren't too flustered with the season despite the first half being a rocky road so far. It's all about learning from the games, learning to band together against adversity and rise to the occasion once more, with the focus on the nightly effort rather than worrying about the big picture come April.

The team's steadfast and unwavering approach to the season reminds me of their "pounding the rock" philosophy, and once again bears testament to the reason why the Spurs have remained in contention for so many years. I'm looking forward to Patty's full recovery. If the Spurs are to win sixteen games in the playoffs --especially against rock-solid contenders like Golden State and Atlanta-- they will need every bit of Mills' energy and firepower, right down to the last drop.

Sneakerheads, aren't you glad Patty's signed up with UA? Watch out for Patty's SoleM8s, the colourways look fantastic, and those insoles are downright brilliant. I for one, love the name. It's so Australian, and so sneakerhead at the same time - a perfect fit.

A photo posted by Patty Mills (@balapat) on Jan 24, 2015 at 1:53pm PST

Never one to forget his roots, Patty took the opportunity on his Martin Luther King day address to pay tribute to Torres Strait Islander Eddie 'Koiki' Mabo, who was instrumental in validating indigenous Australians as the owners of Australian land, before the first wave of white settlers arrived. He also recognised the night as an opportunity to share his thoughts with not only the home crowd, but also to everyone around the world.

A great interview from Benyam, and I'd highly recommend checking the video out if you have the time.

If not, the transcript's available below for your reading pleasure.


Recovery from injury, All-Star break and focus ahead

You've been back for a couple of weeks now, how's the shoulder feeling now? Do you feel like you're back in rhythm now?

Yes, getting there. Obviously being away from playing for six months or so, it's going to take some time. I've been patient with it the whole time through. with the rehab and then, coming back on the court. So just staying patient, and knowing that I'm not going to be in the same shape and pace that I was last year when I was playing, so just let it come. [I've] been playing now for a few weeks, got a few games under my belt.

Got All-Star break coming up soon, so [it's] time to have a break. And then, after [the] All-Star break, [going to] try and make a big push.

Have you got anything planned for the All-Star break, or are you just gonna take some time out?

Yes, it's time to just relax and kind of recharge the batteries a bit.

It's obviously been a big rollercoaster since last year. Obviously with the shoulder, so, a good few days just to take some time off and i think more than anything, just mentally refresh and have a break.

Looking forward to it, although we got one more big one in a couple of days against Detroit, so looking to finish on a high note before the break.


On the stacked West and home court advantage

It has been a bit of a up and down season for you guys so far. Do you feel like, as defending champs, you have been getting every opposing team's best game? Is there a little bit more extra pressure on you guys?

No question. and it's great. It's great for us and hopefully we can learn from it as the season goes on. Every time we play, we've been getting everyone's A-game, A+ game, and it's great for us. We've had a lot of tough losses, a lot of bad losses as well, and a lot of games where we won, [that] we played bad. So I think, all of this combined, we soak it in, and learn from it, and hopefully it'll pay off down the road.

Can you talk a little bit about the competitiveness of the Western conference? Because this season, it just seems like it's something else.

Yeah it is. It's very competitive, as you can see. A lot of tough teams, and that's the way it should be. Great to be in the mix, but we have as many games after the All-Star break, we've got to make the most of it. But it's great, it means that you can't make as many mistakes as the other team, and you got to be on your game, and focus every night now.

There's a couple of teams ahead of you. The Clippers, and the Rockets that are both dealing with pretty severe injuries at the moment. do you guys sort of feel, this is the time after the asb when you guys can really make your move?

We try to get into rhythm before the break. And hopefully we have a good break, and then come out of that refreshed, mentally refreshed to make a big push. We're not really taking into consideration what other teams are doing, we just know we got to take care of what we can.

We've got a hell of a second half of a rodeo road trip after the All-Star break, it's going to be very tough. February is very tough for us, and it's very tough to win on the road. [We're] playing a lot of good teams coming up, so at the very least if we can play the way we should, hopefully we can come out of it, as a better team in general and go on to the end of the season.

It was great to get a home win for you guys tonight. but your home form has been quite good this season. Is that something that's still quite important for you guys, to try and get into that top four and get that home court advantage for the playoffs?

I guess we haven't looked that far into it yet.

Obviously it's somewhat tight there in the Western conference but again, it's not something we go by, or look very closely at. It's one game at a time for us, and taking care of business. But this is an important time for us. To finish off the break with a good game, strong performance and then have a good break, and then come back ready.


Joining up with Under Armour

This season you joined the UA family. Can you talk to us a little bit about that relationship and how that came about?

I was more than excited. My contract was up before, and I had an opportunity to see other brands and came across UA.

Had a good talk with the people involved there, and as I dived a little bit more, [did] some research on the kind of value that UA brings and what kind of athletes do they look for... it matched the type of person I am and the type of values that I have, being an Australian and then being indigenous Australian as well. So I felt like it was a perfect match and the more I got involved, the more I spoke to people, I couldn't be more happy with the change and [I have] been loving it ever since.

We went out to DC, where we were fortunate enough to go to the White House to meet the president. I took a trip down to Baltimore, to the HQ down there as well to see it and it's great, it's a great move for me. Loved it ever since. Big things in the future!

Thrilled to be joining the Under Armour family. Sharing the same core values as UA, #IWill proudly represent this brand on & off the court. #keepthepassion

A photo posted by Patty Mills (@balapat) on Jan 19, 2015 at 4:22pm PST


The White House experience

How was that, going to the White House to meet the president with the whole team?

It was great. It was a great opportunity obviously, it's very unique, very special... not a lot of ppl get to do that. It's one of those things that you'll remember forever.

Obviously getting to meet the president, it was great. I was fortunate enough to meet him one time before so he made a little joke about my height as everyone does, but that's all right - I guess he can when he's the president (laughs)

Seems like he was making a lot of jokes that day!

Yes he was, he was cracking on a few people. He's great, he carries himself well and the words that he spoke with up on the stage there on the White House. It was great to hear from the president but also [as] a basketball fan, so it was great.

A day to remember... #potus

A photo posted by Patty Mills (@balapat) on Jan 12, 2015 at 2:50pm PST


On Martin Luther King Day

Going back a little bit as well. You had the honour of giving the Martin Luther King Day address in front of the home fans. Can you talk to us a little bit about that experience, and what that meant for u?

It was one of those things, I guess, [that] you don't do every day either. It was a special holiday here in America, Martin Luther King Day. It was actually the day before we had a game. Someone in the Spurs approached me about having an opportunity to address the crowd, and when he asked me I said, "yes, of course I would love to do that."

I actually feel very honoured to do something like that. The NBA does a good thing in recognising holidays.

So when I heard that was an opportunity I took it and I spoke on the night, said some words that I truly believe in. I felt like I wasn't only speaking to the crowd that was there that night, but to everyone around the world. I thought that was very powerful.

It was an absolute honour to address the crowd at last night's home game to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It's important that we continue to instill his messages today and in the future. Happy MLK Day!

A photo posted by Patty Mills (@balapat) on Jan 19, 2015 at 12:24pm PST


Once again, thanks to Benyam for bringing this interview about, and also to Patty for graciously sharing his thoughts.

Don't forget to follow Benyam Kidane on Twitter at @BenyamKidane and his partner in crime, Tom Read at @traread as #BTHype brings more of the All-Star Weekend to you.

Most importantly? Stay on track with our Aussies in the NBA over at The Pick and Roll!