Aussie sports stars making it big in the U.S have become a badge of honour for Australian sport and the NBL is looking to one of basketball's biggest stars to lead the way as part of its new initiative.
This week, Australia’s new-look National Basketball League (NBL) launched its own community participation program and chose a big name to roll it out.
Australian player Patty Mills is a 2014 NBA Championship winner and star for the San Antonio Spurs and, perhaps more importantly to the children he met at the launch, he is a key member of the Aussie Boomers and on his way to the Olympics next year.
Mills has been named as the NBL’s first official ambassador and will undertake a lead role in building the league’s community participation programs, specifically looking to inspire children to achieve their goals through playing sport – particularly those from indigenous and multicultural backgrounds.
He remembers his own early taste of basketball starting at an indigenous basketball club in Canberra and spoke at the launch to a large gathering of children at the Fitzroy Primary School in Victoria, about giving back to the sport and to these communities.
“It is so important for me to come back to Australia and participate in encouraging indigenous kids to be the best they can be and help close the gap.”
Mills is very conscious of the fact that he is one of only three indigenous players in the modern era who has represented Australia across both Men’s and Women’s basketball. You need to then go back 30 years to Mills’ own uncle, Danny Morseau, who played with the Boomers in the 1980s, going on to be a dual Olympian, and who was just the second indigenous player to ever play for Australia.
This is a positive move by the NBL as part of its new branding, new competition and new initiatives to engage with the broader Australian community through the game of basketball and the role of sport within communities.