Heading into the 2012 Olympic Games, Team Australia were not a complete team and were facing the fact they will have to play without center Andrew Bogut. Without Bogut, Australia would be depending on San Antonio Spurs' Patty Mills to guide the team in Olympic play and according to head coach and Spurs assistant coach, Brett Brown, Mills earned the right to be the leader due to his hard work on the court.
Leading up to the London Games, Brown and Mills worked endlessly in the gym and Brown says Mills earned the right to make shots.
'People just wouldn't believe what he did with me in San Antonio the three months prior to coming to Australia and getting started again,' Brown said.
'We shot together a lot, more than I have with any other player and I've been lucky to be around some good players over my years.
'He's earned the right to make shots - he's come into this whole program thinner than he's ever been, his fitness is at a world-class level.
'His face, if you look at his arms, he's all cut up, he's ready to go.
'You combine the repetition of shooting and the commitment with being fit - he's earned the right to do well, and that's the message to Patty.'
At the Olympics, Mills struggled early going 1-14 in Australia's first two games. But he didn't let his slow-start bother him at all according to Brown.
'The Olympic Games ... an athlete's got to get through that,' Brown said of the tough start Mills had to endure.
'That's on him, he'll figure it out and he did.
'He was rewarded for his efforts.'
'I do (understand the pressure) but I say bad luck,' Brown said.
'It's just part of being an elite athlete. Go speak to Manu Ginobli, go speak to Tony Parker, go speak to Tim Duncan - that's just the way it goes.
'That's part of delivering on a stage that's pretty big and it is in him.
'You can't shy away from it and he doesn't, that's why he's on the up and up with his career.
'He's not afraid of this, he's not apologetic about it, everybody gets bad games.
'He lives the new day, he plays the next play.'
The Spurs recently re-signed Mills for next season, and with him displaying such an excellent work ethic, it's no wonder the team wanted to keep him around. However, it will be interesting to see how he will fit into the guard rotation. Currently, the Spurs are stacked at the point guard spot with Tony Parker, Cory Joseph, Nando De Colo, and Mills.
Regardless, if he keeps up this fantastic work ethic, it be tough for the Spurs coaching staff to not give him the minutes on the court next season. Mills is instant offense and the Spurs can definitely use that offensive punch off the bench.
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