Team USA vs. Australia: Everything You Need to Know about Guard Patty Mills

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Team USA vs. Australia: Everything You Need to Know about Guard Patty Mills
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As the Team USA basketball team embarks on its first match of medal round play in the 2012 London Olympics against Australia, there's no more vital player to the  Australian upset bid than Patty Mills.

The point guard comes into the matchup against the United States tied for the second-most points in Olympic play with 20.2 points per game.

That scoring rate made him integral to the Boomers advancing to the medal round stage in London with center Andrew Bogut out due to injury.

Mills' name should be lost on most U.S. audiences as he was the No. 55 overall pick in the 2009 draft and spent two seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers before joining the San Antonio Spurs this past year.

But despite Mills having played in the NBA for three seasons, he's still a relative unknown to the masses. With that in mind, here's a look beyond the bio of the Australian point guard:

 

Mills Is the Youngest-Ever Member of Australia's National Team

At just 17 years old, Mills became the youngest member in Boomers basketball history after an invite to the FIBA World Championship training camp in 2006.

Mills wouldn't actually make his international play debut until July 2007 on the Australian national team's tour of Europe, but the point guard's place in history was already set.

Mills announced his arrival on the biggest of Olympic stages for the Boomers in 2008's Beijing Summer Games, dropping an astounding 14.2 points per game as he established himself as the team's most reliable outside scorer.

And as we can tell with Mills' scoring brilliance so far in London, that role has only expanded in his second Olympic go-around.

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He Was the Third Indigenous Australian to Play for Australia Internationally

While Mills is from Australia's capital city, Canberra, his father is a Torres Straight Islander and his mother is a South Australian Aborigine.

Anyone with a cursory understanding of Australia's culture understands that the relationship between resident Australians and their indigenous people is tenuous. It isn't our place to examine that or give any history on the subject.

But that relationship certainly has something to do with Mills being just the third indigenous Australian to ever play for Australia in the Olympics behind Michael Ah Mat and Danny Morseau (source: basketball.net.au).

In an interview with the Canberra Times, Mills used taunts about his race for inspiration and discussed how much representing the indigenous and Aborigines people means to him.

"I also represent the indigenous community in Australia and my family," said Mills. "Not only do I wave the Australian flag, but I wave both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and that's something that means more to me than most things."

Photo Credit: Portland Mercury

 

Mills Created the "Three Goggles"

Perhaps the coolest thing about Mills for those of us (like myself) who enjoy incredibly stupid things was his invention of the "three-point goggles" for teammate Rudy Fernandez.

According to the Trail Blazers' official blog, here's an account of how the craze came to be:

See, Rudy has a bit of a problem focusing on objects way off in the distance. The doctors say he doesn't need correction, but sometimes when trying to make out the details of something far off, he has to squint.

Patty, observant as he is clever, had noticed Rudy furrowing his brow in an attempt to bring focus to what his regular vision found ambiguous. So as a way to poke a little fun at his buddy with less than 20/20, Mills mimicked Rudy's hand symbol for a made three, doubled it and brought his hands to his face to mimic a pair of prescription glasses. And thus, Three Goggles was born.

For the most part, that trend ended when Mills and Fernandez both left the Blazers after the 2010-11 season.

But the next time that your friend, who is always six years late on every cultural development, throws up the goggles when playing pickup basketball, you'll be able to thank Australian guard Patty Mills.

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