Nearby a teller’s desk at a local BBVA Compass bank, Patty Mills sips from a bottle of Topo Chico seated at a table brandished with the company’s logo — a stack of photographs bearing his likeliness are piled near an array of various Sharpies. A BBVA employee opens the bank’s doors, and fans — most waiting several hours to meet the Spurs reserve — begin filing in. The reactions are varied: some express their adoration of his accent, others produce strange memorabilia for the Australian native to sign (one woman brought a boomerang; another a gigantic cardboard cut-out of his head). Mills autographs each with dignified poise, and greets every fan warmly.
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“It’s a pretty special experience I think, to be able to see the fans and to see the smiles we put on their face,” Mills said. “It’s one of those things that for a small moment, it can last a lifetime.”
Kids are given extra attention from Mills, in which he offers various words of advice and encouragement, appearing genuinely interested in any interactions with the young Spurs faithful.
“Once you have kids looking up to people within the organization, I think it’s very important to show if you pursue your dream, they can come through as well,” Mills said. “Just a few words of advice, and maybe they will remember it forever.”
The devoted fan base is a big reason why the Spurs had a sole loss at home this season — tying the best home record in history with the 1985-86 Celtics — and accelerated towards the best record in franchise history.
“It’s no question the support from the community and beyond is why we are so successful this season,” Mills said. “It’s not just in San Antonio, it’s on the road as well…It’s really cool to see.”