Patty Mills has been a cult hero for the majority of his basketball career, always seeming to come up big whenever he's the focal point in front of a national television audience -- which hasn't exactly been a daily affair considering he played his college ball for the Saint Mary's Gaels before becoming a second-round pick by the Portland Trail Blazers.
The 6-foot scoring guard burst on to the basketball scene by single-handedly upsetting the Oregon Ducks during his freshman season and he's somehow found his way to random occurrences of basketball prominence ever since.
Mills was outstanding for an underwhelming Australia team at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing (and typically the youngest player on the court), invented the three-goggles craze that remained relevant longer than most had hoped and then -- after falling off the map for a while -- came back from a failed stint in China during the NBA lockout to epitomize late-season NBA basketball with 34 points and 12 assists as the Golden State Warriors played his most-recent NBA team, the San Antonio Spurs, in a contest that didn't matter for either (but was televised on TNT).
After not getting much burn in the NBA Playoffs (apparently Gregg Popovich doesn't understand Mills' propensity for shining when the lights are brightest), Mills once again returned to the Australian national team this summer. Unfortunately the Boomers drew some rather difficult matchups and were pretty much destined to finish fourth in pool play at the 2012 London Olympics, but Mills has again found a way to keep things interesting.
Mills and his Aussie teammates were scheduled to play Andrei Kirilenko, Alexey Shved and the rest of Russia's national team early Monday morning in a game that didn't exactly matter -- Russia had already wrapped up the top seed whereas the aforementioned Australians were doomed to finish fourth, regardless of the outcome.
That didn't matter to Mills, though, because it was a big stage so he naturally came through in a big way. Trailing 80-79 on the scoreboard with 4.1 seconds left to play, the Boomers drew up a play for Mills and, well, the rest is (maybe going to be) history!
Basketball in 2012 is probably going to be remembered for many things (the lockout season, Team USA 2012 vs. Dream Team dream scenarios, LeBron James winning his first NBA championship, etc.), but with Mills' late-season performance with the Spurs followed by his clutch shooting in a game that didn't really matter for Australia, it seems pertinent that a case could be made for 2012 being the year of Patty Mills, Garbage-Time All-Star ... and I salute him for that.