Mitch Creek can still close his eyes and hear the chants.
“MVP, MVP, MVP”.
Mitch Creek, at Minnesota, talking on the Raptors’ Jordan Lloyd.Credit:AP
It was late in the NBA season and the Minnesota Timberwolves were finishing off a demoralising campaign which saw them fire coach Tom Thibodeau, trade star guard Jimmy Butler and turn over much of their roster.
In the final days of the season, the Timberwolves called the 27-year-old Horsham-raised forward to fill in for some injured players.
Creek had spent the whole season with either the Brooklyn Nets or their NBA G-League affiliate Long Island Nets, impressing Minnesota during his two 10-day contracts with Brooklyn in January.
In making it on to an NBA court after a long career with NBL club Adelaide 36ers, Creek achieved his sporting dream.
“You look around at the sights and sounds. I can close my eyes and visualise what went on,” Creek said.
“I can hear when I got an MVP chant in Minnesota in one of the games I played. Those are the memories you hold onto forever.
“I look back at the extremely large number of times where I was upset, in tears, lonely and a bunch of different things playing on my mind about whether I was good enough to play at this level.
“You think about those, then you think, ‘I played in the bloody NBA, no one can take that from me’.
“If anyone wants to throw shade, my answer will always be, ‘That's nice, I played in the NBA’.”
Creek played in four NBA games with the Nets and had some unforgettable moments but he didn't play much in the first few games for the Timberwolves, although he won some love on social media when their digital team saw that he had a wolf tattoo on his leg.
Off-court, Creek made a strong impression by memorising the names of the club's staff and players and also requesting all the offences so he could learn them before training.
“I made sure I crossed my Ts and dotted my Is,” Creek said.
“I took the time to learn people’s names and positions and asked questions and was genuine with the relationships I formed.
“I enjoyed playing and scrimmaging and hooping each day with them. I had a lot of people in touch to say that my attitude, work ethic and leadership are of a high standard.
“You try to be yourself and hope that is enough and even if it’s not then I can come home and hold my head high because I went there and did it my way.”
When he was finally rewarded with some game-time against Toronto, Creek hustled and give his side a burst of energy even as they fell to a loss.
During those minutes, local fans were inspired enough to start an MVP chant for him.
“I got a couple of offensive boards, dived out of bounds and I got a put-back,” Creek said.
“They called time out and when we went back out I got another put-back and then the fans started supporting me. Someone started chanting ‘MVP’. I got three or four medium to low roars of MVP as I went to the bench.
“It was a pretty funny moment; you don’t look into it too much but you have to enjoy the small victories you enjoy when you get the chance to get out there.”
The Timberwolves have some young stars in Karl Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins and they will be re-tooling their roster to make a run at the play-offs next season.
Creek did well enough to earn a call-back for the NBA Summer League and Minnesota’s training program so he is flying back to the US and hoping to do enough to earn a contract for next season.
He isn’t sure of his availability for Australia’s FIBA World Cup campaign in China as he may have to remain in Minnesota but that won’t be decided until later in the off-season.
If none of his NBA options work out then Creek has also signed with NBL expansion club South East Melbourne Phoenix to be their marquee player during their first NBL season.
Creek signed on under the proviso that he can exhaust his NBA prospects first and he still plans to play with the club at some point, hopefully after a longer NBA stint.
“I didn't sign to be their marquee player, just to put it on my resume,” Creek said.
“I want to come here, win and be a championship holder for this team.
“Right now it’s up in the air. I wish I knew what was going to happen but if I have to watch from afar then I’ll be online watching and making sure they're doing the right things.
“If circumstances change or I came back I know the first place I'm going to play after the NBA is South East Melbourne Phoenix.”
Source: Read Full Article