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COMMENTARY: The case for putting Patty Mills's number in the rafters

With the Australian player headed to the Nets, KENS 5's Vinnie Vinzetta argues why the Spurs may consider retiring his number.

SAN ANTONIO — Bruce Bowen’s number is in the rafters at the AT&T Center. Was he an NBA superstar? He was not. Was he an amazing role player within the Spurs dynasty that understood that? Absolutely. Defense and corner 3s!

So the question we should pose is: Does Patty Mills’s No. 8 deserve a home in the rafters down the road? I’m not sure it does, but there are some who will tell you that Bowen’s jersey doesn’t belong up there with Tim, Gervin, David, Manu, Tony, Johnny Moore, Sean Elliott, Avery and James Silas either. 

So let’s speculate about this. Let’s compare the numbers side by side. We’ll let you be the judge.

Bruce Bowen

  • With the San Antonio Spurs from 2001 to 2009
  • Three titles
  • Played with Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili ever year of his Spurs career, save for one season
  • Appeared in all 82 regular-season games five times
  • Shot over 50% in a season seven times following his third season
  • Named to All-NBA Defensive First Team five times

Patty Mills

  • With the San Antonio Spurs from 2012 to 2021
  • One title
  • Tim Duncan retired in 2016, Manu Ginobili retired in 2018, Tony Parker signed with Charlotte for the 2018-'19 season
  • Appeared in all 82 regular-season games twice
  • Shot over 50% in a season twice following his third season
  • Never named to an All-NBA Defensive Team

Does that compare? No. Not really. It doesn’t even come close, actually. You came to the same conclusion as me. Those stats say Patty’s jersey will never join the others.

But here’s what the Spurs organization might consider.

Mills is one of three Spurs to have made 500 3-pointers playing reserve minutes. The other two are Manu and Matt Bonner. 

He’s the only Spur to make more than 120 3s in five different seasons. 

He holds the NBA record for the most 3s made playing reserve minutes for the same franchise. 

He’s one of only three Spurs to score 3,000 points playing reserve minutes. The other two are Manu and Malik Rose. 

Dating back to December 2020, only two other players in the NBA had been with their teams longer than Mills had been with the Spurs. 

He’s played the most NBA games by someone native to Australia.

Oh, and let’s not forget about Patty’s popularity, infectious enthusiasm and absolute team-first mentality. He was a fan favorite. Manu was the ultimate fan fav, of course, but Mills was beloved during his San Antonio days.

The San Antonio professional basketball club preaches Spurs Family. Patty Mills embodied that. I still don’t think his jersey will loft with the others, but something tells me the Spurs are gonna consider it. 


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