Two months after the Cleveland Cavaliers upset the Golden State Warriors in Game 7 of the NBA Finals, two Australian players who were then bitter rivals are now teammates in Rio.
The Cavaliers' 93-89 victory was Cleveland’s first major professional team sports championship since the Browns won the NFL Championship in 1964.
Surrounded by reporters at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, then-Warriors center Andrew Bogut said he and fellow Australian Matthew Dellavedova of the Cavaliers were "arch enemies."
"We'll see enough of each other in three or four weeks once the Olympics camp starts," Bogut said at the time, according to The Associated Press.
The two are now teammates on the Australian men's Olympic basketball team.
"We're going to the Olympics not to just participate, but to try to win a gold medal. We all believe in it. I think it's been more felt this time around than any other program I've been involved in," Mills told the Huffington Post in July.
In order to win the gold — and beat Team USA — much will be required of Bogut, Dellavedova and Mills.
Bogut, the No. 1 overall pick in the 20015 NBA Draft from the University of Utah, is recuperating from "bone bruises to the proximal tibia and distal femur" suffered in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, according to the Warriors.
He did play in Australia's 82-53 pre-Olympics exhibition win over China on Monday. In nine minutes of action, Bogut grabbed three rebounds and had an assist, ESPN reported. After the game, Australia’s assistant coach and former star center Luc Longley said the team was "fairly happy with how he moved and what he did on court, he'll build from that," according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
Should Bogut be healthy, he will provide Australia size and skill. Dellavedova and Mills will, in theory, augment Bogut’s interior versatility with their perimeter games.
Mills, the 55th overall pick from Saint Mary’s College of California in the 2009 Draft, has a career .389 shooting percentage from the three point line. Dellavedova, who also played played his college ball at Saint Mary’s of California but was undrafted, is a career .398 shooter from three and has a reputation as an irritant to opposing players.
"He was kind of dirty in the [2015 NBA] playoffs, for sure. He broke [Atlanta Hawks guard] Kyle Korver's leg. He held [Chicago Bulls forward] Taj Gibson with his legs and [then-Atlanta Hawks forward/center] Al Horford's legs and got them kicked out the games because they retaliated against him," an unnamed NBA Eastern Conference coach told the Los Angeles Times in January.
Dirty or not, many regard Dellavedova with a sense of admiration.
"I respect a lot of guys' hustles in this league. And you got guys who gotta get a little dirty and gotta get a little physical to make a life and to feed their families," Golden State Warriors small forward Andre Iguodala told CBS Sports on June 3, a day after Dellavedova struck Iguodala in the groin during Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
"So I can only respect that. And for me it's just keeping my composure, continuing to try to do things for my team and help us win," he added.
But Dellavedova's team won the final three games to turn a 3-1 series deficit into a 4-3 series win.
Despite the talent and experience of some of its players, the Australian team could face a tough challenge in Rio, according to former college and NBA basketball coach Mike Montgomery.
"It will be difficult for them," said Montgomery, who coached Montana, Stanford and the University of California in the college ranks, and the Golden State Warriors in the NBA, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
"They are not as athletic as they need to be and we were able to create some opportunities with our kids' quickness so the [Australian team] will need to work really hard on their team defense to disrupt things," he explained.
"They are strong, they are physical and the thing I really like is that they are really, really proud to represent their country. You can see that when they put their arms around each other before the national anthem. It's a very close-knit group of kids and they have done well as a result of that," Montgomery added.
He said he doubts Bogut will play, "but maybe he will and that gives you a good inside presence." Mills and Dellavedova, he said, "shoot the ball well and they execute well," but the entire team will "have to play really well to have a chance against the level of play you get at the Olympics."