The Brooklyn Nets signed Australian veteran Mitch Creek to a 10-day contract on Friday and he made a brief appearance for his NBA debut against the Knicks.
Creek, a 26-year-old in his ninth season of professional basketball — but his first in North America, was with the Nets in training camp after playing in the NBA Summer League with the Dallas Mavericks.
Creek was ultimately waived after the final preseason game and was allocated to the Nets’ NBA G League affiliate, the Long Island Nets, where he had played very well.
A rugged power forward trapped in a wing’s body, Creek averaged 14.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.0 steals in 30.6 minutes per game in 25 appearances for Long Island, making 20 starts.
Creek’s reaction to getting the call from Brooklyn’s assistant general manager, Trajan Langdon, that he was being called up by the parent Nets was genuinely touching.
In a star-driven league, it’s easy to forget how much energy, effort and passion players on the fringe put into getting even just one opportunity to take the court in the best league in the world.
Creek wound up making a very brief NBA debut under odd circumstances Friday night.
After Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was fouled by Noah Vonleh and sustained a cut under his right eye, New York Knicks coach David Fizdale chose Creek to shoot the free throws awarded to RHJ, who had already been taken to the locker room for treatment.
Creek split the two free throws and he was removed from the game after just two seconds of official playing time.
The reaction of his teammates was positively priceless as well.
After the game, Brian Lewis of the New York Post asked Creek about his biggest adjustment to Brooklyn and his answer was the stuff of Crocodile Dundee.
With a little help from ABA English, an online English-language academy, we can translate Creek’s Australian idiom.
When he refers to being as “restless as a frog in a sock,” that refers to being very excited. Think “bouncing off the walls.”
“Rugged up like three sheep” refers to bundling up in warm clothing.
Creek played eight seasons in Adelaide in southern Australia, where temperatures in the summer — when much of Australia’s National Basketball League schedule is played — can routinely reach 110 degrees, so Friday’s high of 34 degrees in Brooklyn would be a very literal cold slap in the face.
BBC.com published some favorite (or favourite, if you will) Australian slang several years ago and this might be a handy reference to bookmark if Creek remains in Brooklyn, because we may hear some other pure Aussie gold such as:
- “Fit as a Mallee bull,” which means very fit and strong. Creek may reference that if he encounters Marcus Smart on Monday when the Nets play the Boston Celtics.
- “Go troppo,” which is to go crazy.
- “Kangaroos loose in the top paddock,” which means eccentric.
One that should that should come with a particular warning is that if Creek ever makes a reference to getting a “knock up call,” he is simply referring to a wake-up call. We Northern Hemispherians (yes, I just did make that up) turned this into a loaded reference.
Creek is just the fourth player the Nets have called up since launching their Long Island G-League affiliate in 2016 and the first this season, but it has to help with continuity to have players who are already familiar with the system and the language readily available to fill in.
And when they are as genuinely colorful as Mitch Creek, so much the better.