Darko Milicic Says He'd Approach NBA Career Differently After Becoming Farmer

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 14, 2017

Minnesota Timberwolves center Darko Milicic, of Serbia, during the NBA basketball team's media day in Minneapolis Friday Dec. 9, 2011.(AP Photo/Andy King)
Andy King/Associated Press

Years removed from the end of his NBA career, Darko Milicic has gained a new perspective on the mistakes he made during his time in the league.     

The 31-year-old gave an interview to Serbian outlet B92 (h/t Ball Don't Lie's Ben Rohrbach). He said working on his farm has allowed him to acknowledge his own culpability in his failure to reach his on-court potential:     

I'd do a lot of things differently now. It's true I ended up on a team trying to win a ring, which rarely happens to a No. 2 pick, but in the end we're all looking for excuses. I could say I didn't get a proper chance, but that's simply an excuse; it's up to a young player to prove himself, work hard and wait for his chance. My approach was completely different. As a No. 2 pick coming from Europe, I thought I was sent by God, so I got into fights, got drunk before practices, spiting everyone, but I was spiting myself.

Milicic also said he had grown so disillusioned with basketball that he told then-Minnesota Timberwolves general manager David Kahn not to trade for him in 2010 because he'd "f--k up the team chemistry."

While he deserves a share of the blame for his underwhelming career, a perfect storm of factors worked against Milicic as he entered the league.

He carried the general mixture of hype and skepticism that surrounds young international prospects but didn't receive much of an opportunity to justify his status as the No. 2 pick in the 2003 draft. 

The Detroit Pistons were in title-contending mode, which meant head coach Larry Brown had little reason to play a rookie forward who faced a steep learning curve while adjusting to the NBA. Milicic appeared in 96 games in his two-and-a-half seasons in the Motor City.

Milicic had multiple stops over the next eight campaigns to prove himself, though he couldn't stick with any team for too long. His best season came with the Orlando Magic in 2006-07, when he backed up Dwight Howard. He averaged 8.0 points and 5.5 rebounds a game.

Milicic became a cult favorite among diehard basketball fans—to the extent he inspired the popular FreeDarko blog—and he's one of the more intriguing what-ifs from the draft in the last 20 years.

The 2003 draft class will go down as one of the best ever, with LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade all top-five picks.

Just as Sam Bowie has carved out a place in basketball history as the guy drafted ahead of Michael Jordan, Milicic will forever be remembered among a generation of fans for his connection to some of the NBA's biggest stars. 

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