Canberra basketball star Patrick Mills says he wants to be taken seriously in the NBA and ''not just be someone waving a towel'' as the San Antonio Spurs aim for a championship.
Mills is enjoying the best season of his NBA career, earning high praise from four-time NBA championship-winning coach Gregg Popovich and cementing his place in the Spurs' rotation.
The former Marist College student earned a cult following last year for his fanatic towel waving on the Spurs bench as they lost to the Miami Heat in the NBA championship series.
But averaging more court time than he has in his five NBA seasons and scoring 32 points last week, Mills wants to be a vital cog in the Spurs' title hopes.
''I want to be taken seriously now, not just someone who was waving a towel last year,'' he said.
''I really want to be a part of this team, really want to win and make a contribution. That's the impression that I wanted to make when I came in [this season].''
Mills has already played 52 games this season. The Spurs have 30 regular-season matches remaining before the play-offs. Before this year, Mills' back-up and bench roles limited him to a career-high games tally of 64 in a season.
The two-time Olympian, and leading scorer at the London Olympics two years ago, is finding his feet in the world's best basketball league.
He scored 32 points against the Charlotte Bobcats in just 25 minutes on the court. The 25-year-old averages 9.3 points per game this season and Spurs coach Popovich heaped praise on the speedy point guard.
''He came back to us with a totally different body [this year], he worked the entire time to change fat to muscle,'' Popovich said.
''He came back quicker, more dedicated defensively and he's making great decisions compared to the past. He really wanted the job he has right now, he came back [to the Spurs] and took it.''
Mills plays in a team of superstars with future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.
Mills was part of the Spurs' championship bid last season, but he had foot surgery in the latter part of the series as San Antonio fell to LeBron James and the Miami Heat.
''We always want to go one better,'' Mills said.
''For me, I'm just trying to earn trust and hold that trust with the other guys on the team, especially the coach. It's hard to get that trust so I think maintaining that is a big key for this team.''
Mills is in his third season with the Spurs. NBA: Patty Mills won't throw in towel on title dream