Patty Mills’ work to empower Indigenous-Australian athletes at the grassroots level now has the backing of the NBA, with the league announcing on Friday that it is joining forces with Indigenous Basketball Australia (IBA) in its inaugural year.
Through its Jr. NBA program — the league’s global youth basketball initiative — the NBA will conduct a camp, led by international NBA coaches at the National Indigenous Basketball Tournament (NIBT) at the Gold Coast in Queensland, on April 11-13, 2021.
The Jr. NBA-run camp will feature 48 boys and girls, and it was also announced that up to two boys and two girls participating in the upcoming Indigenous Community Basketball League (ICBL) and NIBT will be selected to participate in the Jr. NBA Global Championship Asia-Pacific athlete selection pathway camp planned for later in the year.
Mills established the IBA with an eye toward creating basketball pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth, and this collaboration with the NBA expands the program’s resources immensely.
“Basketball as a sport has brought me happiness, joy, education and a real sense of purpose and perspective. It has changed my world and shaped the person I am today,” Mills said.
“However, not everyone has had the same opportunities as I have, which is why I’m so dedicated to using my platform, my profile and my voice to develop innovative programs like IBA, which will allow my people to really own their story. I have spent over 10 years in the NBA, an organisation that has not only supported and championed me as an athlete, but celebrated my cultural identity as an Australian, an Indigenous man of the land.
“I am ecstatic and filled with immense pride to have the world’s most renowned professional basketball league join forces with IBA – the work we are going to do together will make a real impact to the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youths.”
NBA Asia managing director Scott Levy added: “We are proud to stand alongside NBA Champion Patty Mills, an Australian icon for his basketball achievements and for his tireless off-the-court efforts to positively effect change in his community.
“Youth empowerment is a shared goal of the NBA and IBA, and through the Jr. NBA program, we can support Patty’s mission of providing opportunities and pathways for Indigenous youth of Australia.”