BASKETBALL: Superstar Patty Mills has just signed a $65 million contract but is "gutted'' because he won't get the chance to play for free.
Mills - who re-signed for four years with the San Antonio Spurs in the US's NBA competition earlier this month - is set to be named as an ambassador for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. Basketball will return to the Games for the first time since Melbourne in 2006.
Mills' cherishes his indigenous heritage (his father is from Thursday Island) and he is particularly pleased pool matches will be played in Cairns and Townsville where he is about to conduct a promotional tour that he is greatly looking forward to.
Due to his commitments with San Antonio, Mills will not be wearing the green and gold at the Games next year but he admits he has turned green already.
"To have huge a tournament like this where they will visit Cairns and Torres Strait Islanders will be able to go and watch some live basketball games is great for the community up there and great for basketball,” Mills said.
"The toughest thing about the whole thing for me is not being able to play. I'm gutted. But being an ambassador is just as good.
"For a lot of the players it will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to compete in a global sporting event on home soil. I have never done that before.”
Australia fell agonisingly short of its first Olympic medal in men's basketball at last year's Rio Games but Mills senses the big moment is nigh.
The Boomers will be without their NBA stars at the Commonwealth Games but Mills said it was a great opportunity for young players to press their claims.
"(Men's) basketball is on the cusp in Australia,” Mills said.
"We have not yet won a medal at the Olympics or world championships but that really fuels the fire and gives us burning motivation inside.
"We have a lot of young boys coming through with the right mindset. They have the right skills as well but the right mindset is even more important when you have to travel to the other side of the world to achieve your dream.”
Mills joins Cathy Freeman, Sally Pearson, Cameron McEvoy, Anna Meares, Laura Geitz and Kurt Fearnley as the GC2018 ambassadors announced to date.