What do you after winning your first NBA championship in a game that saw you go absolutely unconscious from the floor for a spell to cap off the best season of your professional career just in time to hit unrestricted free agency as a 25-year-old sharpshooting, ball-handling, opposing-point-guard-hounding microwave? Apparently, if you're Patty Mills, you enjoy one of your favorite pastimes — you go "frogging" with a couple of your best balas:
Well, Mills is definitely frogging. I'm not entirely sure what Tiago Splitter and Boris Diaw are doing. It's weird; according to this informative guide to the Spurs' frogging, both Splitter and Diaw are frogging O.G.s, an integral part of frogging's development from way, way back in the day of several months ago, and yet here they don't seem to even approach a legitimate frogging stance.
Maybe they were distracted by other thoughts. In Splitter's case, perhaps it was the monster block of a layup attempt by Dwyane Wade that offered the Brazilian big a bit of redemption after last year's Finals. For Diaw, it could've been the still nearly unbelievable imprint he made on this five-game annihilation, which saw him tie Tony Parker for the team lead in minutes played (176), best Parker for the team lead in assists (29 to 23), trail only Tim Duncan in total rebounds (50 to 43) and finish second to Manu Ginobili in plus-minus (+83 for Manu, +74 for Boris). While Kawhi Leonard was certainly a deserving Finals MVP selection, you could've made a really strong argument for Diaw for most of the series, which was one of the more remarkable aspects of a championship round chock full of them.
Mills' play, of course, certainly qualifies. The Australian gunner finished fifth on the Spurs in scoring in the Finals, averaging 10.2 points in 15 minutes per game and shooting a scorching 56.5 percent from 3-point land over the five-game victory. He also made an impact defensively, hectoring opposing ball-handlers and making life miserable on Ray Allen, working overtime to deny the all-time long-distance great clean catches and shuffling his feet to beat Allen to the spot, drawing charges and disrupting offensive sets. He fed off all the space the Spurs' other offensive threats created, and provided the kind of boost on the other end that energized his teammates, too.
"His energy has been important to us all year long," Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said after the win, in which Mills scored 17 points in 17:40 of floor time. "He's a real significant reason why we got to the Finals, and obviously he's played well in the Finals also. But that energy, that team sense that he has really has become infectious for everybody."
It's made him a fan favorite in San Antonio and has earned him an increasing amount of respect around the league, as more journalists and fans become acquainted with the unique cultural position he inhabits as an indigenous Australian born to an Aboriginal mother and a Torres Strait Islander father, and someone whose past experiences have inspired him to want to be a role model for others who have suffered, or are suffering, the sting of racial/ethnic abuse.
"Even to know where I come from and to play on a main stage like this is an unbelievable chance for me to represent those communities," Mills said after Sunday's victory. "I said that a million times, that this means the most to me. To be able to play a game that I love while representing my country is great. I can only imagine everyone back home. The support has been great."
Representing not only yourself, not only your club and your country, but also multiple cultures about which many fans may know nothing might be too heavy a burden to bear for some athletes. Mills, however, carries his weight like a gift, pairing his productivity with constant energy and effervescence, and leaving plenty of room to celebrate the goofier elements of his personality ... like, for example, the kind that not only invents frogging, but brings it back as the pose of choice in celebrating the pinnacle of his pro basketball career. Shine on, Patty Thrills. May this summer make you Patty Even More Millions.
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- Sports & Recreation
- Boris Diaw
- Patty Mills
- Tiago Splitter