The San Antonio Spurs face long playoff odds—analytics site Fivethirtyeight puts their postseason chances at less than one percent—but that won’t stop Patty Mills from seeing the court in Orlando later this month. The 31-year-old announced Wednesday that he’ll donate the remainder of his 2019-20 salary—a total sum of $1,017,818.54—to Black Lives Matter programs in his native Australia.
“I’m taking every cent from these eight games that we’re playing, which for me will turn out to be $1,017,818.54, and donating that directly back to the Black Lives Matter Australia, Deaths in Custody and to a recent campaign that’s called the We Got You campaign, dedicated to ending racism in sport in Australia,” said the 6’1” point guard, who helped the Spurs to an NBA title in 2014. With little to play for—San Antonio trails eighth-seeded Memphis by four games in the Western Conference with just eight games remaining—skipping the team’s Orlando slate as many players have (the Wizards and Nets will be sending their B squads to Disney) amid the coronavirus would have been understandable. But Mills, who was averaging a career-high 11.7 points per game when the COVID outbreak halted play in March, sees Orlando as an opportunity to give back.
“I’m playing in Orlando because I don’t want to leave any money on the table that could be going directly to black communities,” Mills explained in a video message Wednesday. The Spurs, led by outspoken head coach Gregg Popovich, have long been among the more socially-conscious teams in the sport, so it’s no surprise that one of their players has emerged as a leading voice in the fight for racial equality.
The NBA hopes to shine a light on social justice issues when play resumes later this month with players having the option to display personal messages on their uniforms. The league also plans to have the phrase “Black Lives Matter” painted on each of its three courts in Orlando.