Mitch Creek’s first season in North America has brought much success to the 26-year-old.
On a personal front, Creek fulfilled his childhood dream in January by making an NBA debut with the Brooklyn Nets. It was an experience that Creek admits provided a surreal feeling.
“That is the kind of stuff dreams are made of and it became a reality for me,” Creek explained of his NBA debut.
Creek’s time in the NBA ended after four games and 36 minutes of action — his second 10-day contract was abruptly cut short as Brooklyn chased roster flexibility on the NBA’s trade deadline day – but the Victorian native has continued his impressive season in the G League with the Long Island Nets and another tremendous opportunity awaits.
The Nets finished the G League season tied for the league lead with 34 wins and enter the postseason as the Eastern Conference’s number one seed.
While Creek admits to thinking about what his life will look life once he returns to Australia later this year, with special thought being given to the landmark events taking place with the South East Melbourne Phoenix and Australian Boomers, the Nets postseason push is currently his only focus.
“Right now it is about trying to plan for the [G League] playoffs,” says Creek. “We will see how long we last and hopefully we can go all the way through and make a good run.”
Under the stewardship of newly appointed Sydney Kings head coach Will Weaver, Long Island has taken the G League by storm this season. They will begin their postseason on Saturday morning (AEDT) as one of the leading favourites to claim the championship.
Once the G League season is complete, Creek will be returning to Australia, although the exact date of his return will depend on whether he is required for a playoff push at the NBA level. With Brooklyn poised for a return to the NBA playoffs, Creek could remain in North America just in case he is needed.
“I will be going back home [after the G League season] but I’ll talk to Brooklyn and see if I should stay around for a week or two,” Creek explained.
“I want to put myself in the best position. If it means playing for my own accommodation to stay around and train [in Brooklyn], or wherever it is to stay ready. Staying in the States might be the best choice.
“I am trying to strive for my goals every single day. Right now, I would love to go home and put my feet up and have a couple beers with the boys and see people I haven’t seen for 12 months but my dreams come first.”
Creek’s dreams are clearly focused on sustaining his place at the NBA level. A return to Las Vegas Summer League in July will be the next basketball stop for Creek in his attempts to gain a full time NBA contract for the 2019-20 NBA season.
If Creek’s NBA aspirations are forced to wait another season, he will then make a permanent return to Australia as the face of the Phoenix.
South East Melbourne has been growing ahead of their inaugural NBL season and as the club’s inaugural marquee signing, Creek is excited about the potential of the infant club. Even from half way around the world, he is paying close attention and is acutely aware of the momentum the Phoenix are building.
“Tommy [Greer] has done a sensational job,” Creek said. “Romie [Chaudhari] has done an amazing job of being out and being vocal towards me, Tommy and Simon [Mitchell].”
“We have a good little base at the moment with Chima [Moneke], myself, Ben [Madgen] and we have other guys in the works that we are looking at. I am looking forward to going back and doing some media and helping out. Also getting some work in with the coaches and helping Tommy out with the club and trying to build a special dynasty there.”
Thoughts of NBA contracts and NBL dynasties occupy Creek’s focus within his club basketball career, although regardless of where he begins the 2019-20 basketball season, he will first attempt to chase down the biggest accomplishment in Australian Boomers history.
Creek hopes to be a part of the Boomers squad when they begin their World Cup campaign in China on August 31st. The Boomers have been drawn alongside Lithuania, Canada and Senegal in group H; a quartet that has widely been dubbed as the tournament’s ‘group of death.’
While the Boomers have been given a challenging assignment, Creek is matter of fact when it comes to the national side progressing into the later stages of the World Cup.
“At the end of the day it is a basketball court, it has a ring, there is a basketball and there are 10 guys on the court. You just have to outwork [the other team] and be a little more precise with your preparation. It is a one game thing and you have to win to advance through.”
2019 has been kind to Creek. It has already delivered an NBA debut, an accomplishment that was a lifetime in the making. And yet, for all the successes, there is still much to be accomplished. Whether it be in the NBA or the NBL; with the Nets, Phoenix or Boomers, Creek has larger goals in mind.