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Behind Crows Doors: Patty pops in

Patty Mills Pops In Australian Basketball champion and Crows ambassador Patty Mills pops in for a chat while in Adelaide for a wedding.
This is going to mean being up at three or four o’clock in the morning and tuning in with my kit on and the Crows flags flying high in the house.
Patty Mills

NBA star Patty Mills says he’s preparing for some early mornings over the next month after his beloved Adelaide Crows qualified for the 2015 AFL Finals Series.

An official Ambassador since 2012, Mills and his family are avid Crows fans.

The Australian Boomers and San Antonio Spurs point-guard was in Adelaide with his partner Alyssa over the weekend to attend the wedding of fellow basketballer Joe Ingles and Adelaide Thunderbirds captain and Australian Diamond, Renae Hallinan.

Mills surprised the Crows players and coaches by turning up to training on Saturday morning, but NBA commitments meant he had to fly out of Adelaide before the team took on West Coast on Sunday afternoon.

“My good mate and teammate, Joe Ingles, is getting married, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to pop in and say G’Day to the guys and wish them luck for the finals,” Mills said at training on Saturday.

“Alyssa and I are actually heading back to San Antonio (on Sunday) for training to commence on Monday. We won’t be able to stick around for the game tomorrow, which is okay for me because last year we were here for the Eagles game and we lost.

“I was thinking, I didn’t want to jinx the boys again, so I’m happy to leave and let Mum and Dad represent!”

Mills’ parents Yvonne and Benny watched the Crows defeat the Eagles from the stands on Sunday.

It was Yvonne, who inspired her Canberra-born son to follow the Adelaide Football Club.

“AFL is on my Mum’s side of the family,” Mills said.

“Growing up around her and the rest of the family, the Crows is what it was all about. 

"I’m very happy they got me involved in it.”

Mills has been back in Australia for the past few weeks for the 2015 FIBA Oceania Championships.

The 27-year-old, who had been recovering from a shoulder injury, answered a call from the Boomers after promising star Dante Exum ruptured his ACL against Slovenia. Mills helped the Boomers to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games with a 2-0 series win over New Zealand.

“It was a great experience,” Mills said.

“To play for your country is one thing, but to do it (qualify for the Olympics) with the guys that you grew up with and know so well makes it even better. So, we’re off to Rio and I’m looking at my third Olympics. It’s exciting.”

Crows players Rory Sloane, Josh Jenkins and Tom Lynch cheered Mills on in game one against the Tall Blacks in Melbourne following the Club’s Round 20 win over Essendon.

“I got a big surprise when the boys came down and sat courtside at our game at Rod Laver Arena,” Mills said.

“It’s something I think they were pretty excited about too! It’s so great when you’re doing what you love, on the court playing … and then you see that the boys were coming to support me just as much as I support them. It’s really heart-warming.

“I guess that’s what the Crows are all about, that family environment and values that we all fit into.”

Mills won't be back in Australia until this time next year, meaning he’ll have to follow Adelaide’s September journey online.

The lifelong Crows fan is well versed in his ‘overseas’ game-day routine.

“This is going to mean being up at three or four o’clock in the morning and tuning in with my kit on and the Crows flags flying high in the house,” he said.

“I’ll try and drag some Americans over to get involved. It’s an exciting time of the year and now that the boys are in, I’m really looking forward to it.”

Mills has tried to educate his Spurs teammates, which include Tony Parker and Tim Duncan, about Australian Rules.

Although, respected coach Gregg ‘Pop’ Popovich hasn't always been a fan of the Aussie’s methods.

“When I was going through rehab with my shoulder, we kinda had to mix it (our training) up a bit and I thought, what better way to mix it up than to introduce the footy to my rehab program!” Mills said.

“Every time we warmed up, we warmed up with a footy and kicked it around the basketball court. I got the boys on the team involved as well and they were trying to have a kick.

“I don’t think ‘Pop’ was too impressed when he walked in one day and saw us kicking around a weird shaped ball.”

Mills was a part of San Antonio’s 2014 NBA Championship-winning team.

He said the Spurs, who were knocked out in the first round of the NBA Playoffs last season, would be chasing more silverware in 2015-16.

“It’ll be another big NBA season,” he said.

“We’re still trying to make a push for a sixth championship in San Antonio. We’ve got some big-name signings in the offseason with LaMarcus Aldridge and Dave West, so it’s going to be a big year followed by the Olympics.”

Patty Mills chats with Eddie Betts and Sam Jacobs