Leading Australia's pursuit of an elusive Olympic medal in Tokyo, Patty Mills was also navigating free agency.
A key member of the San Antonio Spurs organisation for a decade, Mills was on the verge of signing with the championship contending Brooklyn Nets.
"It was such an extraordinary circumstance with free agency being in the middle of the Olympics," Mills said during an introductory press conference.
"Knowing where my head was in the trenches so to speak of trying to a first Olympic medal and know free agency was going to be in the middle did make it quite tough."
On the radar for multiple contenders, Mills prepared for the upcoming decision as much as he could before entering the Olympic village, before ultimately agreeing to terms in Brooklyn.
"For me, being able to be prepared for a lot of things is something I take pride in. It was one of those things where I prepared before I entered the national team realm. From my standpoint I did all that I could, did the research I needed to do which gave me confidence to go into the national team and be there. When it came up and the information came through when I was in the village, by that stage it was almost obvious and a calculated decision, combined with what the gut was feeling but it was hard."
You can't say goodbye to a place that will forever be part of you.- Patrick Mills (@Patty_Mills) August 25, 2021
Besides, you still gotta have a fiddle in the band 😉
Forever connected #spursporvida @spurs pic.twitter.com/rtzEQWt0Bw
Expected to come off the bench with the Nets, the electric scoring ability of Mills is set to add even more firepower to the superstar backcourt of James Harden and Kyrie Irving. Needless to say, the Australian guard can't wait to get to work.
"Knowing that you're all in for a championship and you have that mindset and feel throughout the group. Every day it's working towards something. That's an exciting feeling to know when you walk in the gym, or in the weight room, it's for a championship.
"A lot of it starts in the locker room, off the court. This is a great opportunity for me to insert myself in a group that's already established. What I'll be able to bring is that leadership and that experience of coming from a winning culture environment."
Currently back in Australia, Mills admits the conversations will continue to unfold with teammates and staff regarding the "puzzle" of fitting all the pieces together, though, a conversation with Kevin Durant left him comfortable with the decision to head to the Nets.
"It's exciting for me to know there is a different opportunity to see how I can fit. The conversation I had with Kevin was so pure and so genuine. Being able to understand that he is such a genuine hooper and go back and forth about basketball specifics. It was exciting for me to know there is an opportunity there for me to try and be who I am, like who I am with the National Team.
"Obviously, the Olympics is one thing with the role, the leadership, the position that I'm in with the Australian team. I think after a good Tokyo Olympics campaign, being able to ride the momentum and carry it into Brooklyn is something I'm looking forward to."
As for playing under head coach Steve Nash?
"That style and freedom of what Steve [Nash] does such a great job with, being among some of the best players in the world is just an exciting opportunity that I think I'll be able to thrive off."
"People ask when I was younger in the league who my favourite player was to play against and it was Steve Nash. It wasn't necessarily that I was guarding him or he was guarding me it was more so getting to see up close and personal how he plays and how he approached the game. That was very exciting for me.
"I may or may not of been a part of the game in a slight way that ended his career in Phoenix so that's a memory that I thoroughly enjoyed, I don't know that if he did," he said with a smile.
"I've worked closely with him in the past, to be able to really dive into the details of what it takes to be able to continue to learn about the game and continue to learn about your body. For me, it was that, I'm not the biggest player in the NBA or the strongest so finding little things here or there to continue to get better. That's stuff you get out of his book, you get out of Manu Ginobili's book."
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