Stalwart Spurs guard Patty Mills was a guest Friday on ESPN NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski’s podcast and discussed a variety of topics that included the franchise’s culture, Tim Duncan and the infamous Game 6 loss to Miami in 2013.
Mills also spoke at length about the Australian fires that have ravaged his home country.
Mills said it’s been difficult to see the destruction from afar, but he has teamed with his fellow Australian-born NBA players to raise money and get relief to the country.
He is also working with the National Basketball Players Association to assist the Australian Red Cross. Mills said he will continue to use his platform to raise awareness.
Wojnarowski asked Mills about his first days with the Spurs and the structure of the franchise. He said dinners with Manu Ginobili, Tiago Splitter, Boris Diaw, Tony Parker and others made him feel he was part of the team.
“I began to feel the connection with the organization and the values it has culturally,” Mills said.
Mills said he wanted to do whatever he could to stay in San Antonio and become a major part of the organization.
The conversation steered to the 2013 and 2014 NBA Finals. Wojnarowski asked what Mills remembered about the Spurs’ Game 6 overtime loss to Miami.
“I still feel like it happened last week. I remember the game. The free throws. The offensive rebound. The corner three,” Mills said. “The yellow rope on the court to block the fans. To all of a sudden the Larry O’Brien (trophy) being rolled back off the court and the yellow tape being taken off."
Mills discussed the feeling afterward in the locker room and at dinner that evening.
“It was an Italian restaurant,” Mills said. “It was a silent dinner. I remember not many people talking, just trying to comprehend what happened and making that effort to reset.”
The Spurs lost the series in Game 7, but Mills said it fueled their 2014 title run and made the players closer on-and-off the court.
“(I) appreciate those times for what it was. It was the connection that players had with the team, with the organization, with the city that provided this environment of playing for something more than just basketball,” Mills said.
Despite those players moving on or retiring, Mills said he is still excited about the Spurs’ future and feels like being a bridge from the Big Three days of Ginobili, Tim Duncan and Parker to this current team is important to him. He wants to teach the young players the core values of the organization.
Wojnarowski asked about Duncan returning as an assistant coach and the effect he has on coach Gregg Popovich. He called Duncan a stabilizer for Popovich and everyone else.
“The relationship that those two have is very unique, it’s special,” Mills said. “No one else can have that impact on Pop that Timmy has. It’s great to see every day.
“The one thing that you probably find from a lot of people is just how much his presence is effective without him making a noise or saying a word. To have him back is great for many different reasons. I think a lot of people forget that he is a great guy to have around to laugh and joke.”
Mills joked that the worst part of Duncan returning is the space he takes up on the bench with his “giant boots.”