SAN ANTONIO — The start of the Spurs 2021-22 season will not have a familiar face.
After 10 years in San Antonio, guard Patty Mills will be wearing the black and white Nets jersey instead of the silver and black Spurs jersey.
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During his introduction to Brooklyn, Mills says he turned to the one person he knew would listen about his next chapter in his basketball career - Gregg Popovich.
"The one person I was able to talk to was Pop. Obviously, everything he has done for me in my career, on the court and especially off the court. Being able to do that was special and that was really the only conversation I was able to have."
"The conversation is comfortable. I wouldn't say that it's easy but it's comfortable. It extends far beyond basketball. Now when you have the conversation it's genuine love there and support for your career as a person more than anything. It's almost like basketball isn't a part of the conversation and I think that's a testament to him number one of really caring about his players and going the extra mile to understand his players on a different level."
Mills was the lone remaining player from the Spurs dynasty days. He and Popovich helped the Spurs capture the 2014 title, was known as the “heart and soul” of the team, and Popovich turned to him in his final two seasons as a Spur to become a mentor to the younger players.
Their bond grew over the years and he takes with him to Brooklyn lessons learned from the Spurs head coach.
"That's something I've picked up from him. How he's able to connect his players to the outside world, there is a world out there bigger than basketball and meaningful and you learn that stuff because of him. Now when you have those conversations there's a lot more meaning there. The time we spent together and how much I've learned from him, the ups and downs, the highs and lows that we share, all that comes into play, but it was just a comfortable conversation. They all are because it comes from a genuine place."
Mills took the time to thank the Spurs fanbase and the city for their support throughout the years.
In an Instagram video post highlighting some of his best moments in silver and black, he made it clear that San Antonio will always be his home and will always consider himself a Spur.
Mills will forever be embedded into the fiber of San Antonio. What he did on and off the court will never be forgotten.
Expect the AT&T Center packed with misty-eyed fans when the Nets and Mills make their lone appearance in San Antonio on Jan. 21.
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