Darko Milicic has firmly moved on from his decade-plus career in the NBA.
Currently, Darko is known for being the lump of coal lodged between multiple diamonds in the NBA 2003 draft. We know how his story played out: Milicic was famously picked before Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, and was overshadowed by their success. Despite lasting in the league for more than 10 years, many remember him as a massive bust. Darko doesn’t necessarily disagree.
Now a farmer, Milicic did not reflect fondly of his time in the association. Drafted second overall by the Detroit Pistons in 2003, Milicic barely played. He admitted his preparation for entering the league was poor.
“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.”
After getting traded to the Orlando Magic, he said he wasn’t re-signed due to perceived mental issues following two years of putting up career-best numbers.
“I had some nice games in a year and a half there, so I was expecting some nice offers. No offers came though, since everyone was thinking I had mental issues and was a risk. That’s where I got disappointed even more.”
At the time, still a productive player, Milicic was gifted a three-year, $21 million deal with Memphis. The 31-year-old stated he was “mentally worn out” with the Grizzlies and never wanted to go to Memphis. After wearing out his welcome, Milicic imploded as a member of the Knicks.
Losing interest in the NBA, Milicic was sent to the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2009. Before the deal, he pleaded with then-general manager David Kahn to not trade for him.
“Don’t trade for me for the love of God. I don’t want to play in the NBA anymore. I’ll ruin your team. I’ll f*** up the team chemistry. Do not trade for me.”
Two seasons after signing a four-year, $20 million deal, Milicic was amnestied by Minnesota. He latched on with the Boston Celtics for a single regular season game before being waived.
“My experience in the NBA was a catastrophe, because I’m a born winner. I don’t like losing, even in card games.”
On the surface, it’s easy to paint Milicic and his career in a negative light due to the success his fellow 2003 draftees are having. However, for a guy who didn’t want to be in the NBA at times, it’s great that he’s found peace. Money isn’t everything.
The NBA wasn’t for Milicic. He’s gone on a different path than most former hoops stars. There’s nothing wrong with that.