Patty Mills

Patty Mills, NBA Finals star, has quite an Olympic backstory

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The newly crowned NBA champions have several Olympic ties. Manu Ginobili won a gold medal, Tim Duncan a bronze (Duncan’s sister swam in the 1988 Olympics), and Tony Parker made his long-awaited Olympic debut in 2012.

But how about backup point guard Patty Mills, who scored 17 points off the bench in the Spurs’ decisive Game 5 win over the Heat on Sunday.

The Australian played in his first Olympic game at age 19 in 2008. He came off the bench in all six Aussie games in Beijing and led the team in scoring (14.2 points per game).

In 2012, he led the entire Olympic tournament in scoring (21.2 points per game, nearly two points clear of Kevin Durant, Ginobili and Pau Gasol). The Aussies lost in the quarterfinals both times.

Mills’ passion for the Olympics dates even farther back to one of the iconic moments in Games history in 2000.

Mills’ mother is Aboriginal. Of course, the most famous Aboriginal athlete is Cathy Freeman, who lit the Olympic cauldron in Sydney and later won the 400m. Mills has called Freeman his idol and remembers — “like it’s last week” — watching Freeman’s one-lap victory one month after turning 12.

“That moment was — I get shivers just thinking about it,” Mills, who reportedly attended Sydney 2000 basketball games, told The New York Times. “I ran track, and my pet event was the 400 meters, and I wanted to be like Cathy Freeman. The whole country was on Cathy’s back during that race. Everyone was clued in during that race seeing her cross the line and how she handled herself, not only on the track, but before and after, because she had so much pressure.”

Freeman, too, follows Mills. The point guard’s Twitter account is one of 52 on her following list.

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Marc Leishman will miss Olympics due to wife’s health, Zika

Marc Leishman
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Australian golfer Marc Leishman will miss the Rio Olympics due to his wife’s health.

“Many of you may know that last April my children and I almost lost my wife, Audrey, to toxic shock syndrome,” Leishman said in a statement. “Since then Audrey has been prone to infection and is far removed from 100 percent recovery of her immune system.

“We have consulted with Audrey’s physician and due to her ongoing recovery from toxic shock and potential risks associated with the transmission of the Zika virus, it was a difficult yet easy decision not to participate.

“I missed playing in the 2015 Masters tournament to be at her side when she was originally stricken and I cannot risk placing her health in jeopardy.

“The Masters and the Olympics are the two biggest tournaments to which a golfer can be invited; however, my family will always come before golf.”

Leishman, 32 with one PGA Tour win, joined the projected Olympic field when countryman Adam Scott said last month that he would skip Rio.

World No. 1 Jason Day is assured one of two Olympic spots for Australian men when the 60-man field is determined based on July 11 world rankings.

With No. 7 Scott and No. 35 Leishman out, the next-best Aussie is No. 63 Marcus Fraser.

Three more major champions — Vijay Singh, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel — also said in April they would not compete in Rio.

Golf returns to the Olympics for the first time since 1904.

MORE: Australia Olympic legend blasts Adam Scott

Rory McIlroy worried Olympic golf may be done after 2020

Rory McIlroy
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Rory McIlroy believes golf may not remain in the Olympics after 2020 following a string of major champions announcing they will skip the sport’s return at the Rio Games.

“Because of how [Olympic golf is] being approached in golf circles … I’m not sure if we’re going to have another opportunity to win a gold medal after [Tokyo 2020],” McIlroy said ahead of the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, N.C., on Wednesday.

In 2009, the International Olympic Committee voted to re-add golf and rugby to the Olympic program for the 2016 Olympics, with a review in 2017 if they would remain for the 2020 Olympics.

In 2013, Tokyo was elected host city for the 2020 Olympics with a plan that includes golf.

Beyond 2020, golf does not yet have a place in the Olympics. Its chances for the 2024 Olympics could come into focus when that host city is chosen in September 2017.

McIlroy, ranked No. 3 in the world, has repeated he will play for Ireland in the first Olympic golf tournament since 1904 in Rio in August.

Fellow major champions Adam ScottLouis OosthuizenCharl Schwartzel and Vijay Singh said last month they will not play in the Rio Olympics.

MORE: Golf Channel’s Olympic broadcast schedule