Once selected with the No. 2 overall pick in the same draft as LeBron James, Darko Milicic didn’t last long in the NBA. But he is at peace.
In a recent profile on E:60, we learned about where Milicic has spent his time since leaving the United States. Now back in Serbia, he is “passionate” and “animated” about his new venture (via ESPN):
Darko got into commercial farming after basketball. Some athletes do real estate or clothing — Darko did fruit. Don’t be confused: His farm is more Dole Plantation than Old MacDonald. He has 125 acres filled with apple trees and exports the apples to Dubai, Russia and countries in Africa.
Milicic, who also said in the interview he made up that his hero was Kevin Garnett because so many folks asked him who he idolized, was troubled in the United States. According to the report, he spent many evenings punching walls due to frustration.
He also had many “overnight benders” that resulted in him showing up to work tipsy the next morning. Larry Brown was his former coach with the Pistons. Brown said he wishes Milicic had been less immature and impatient.
In this interview, Milicic reiterated that he told the Timberwolves that it was a bad idea to trade for him. These days, he doesn’t watch much basketball and his anger issues have since subsided after he unexpectedly quit the NBA early in the 2012 season.
While he briefly considered coming back to play for a Serbian basketball team and also shocked many during his kickboxing career when he weighed over 300 pounds. He only fought once and retired once again.
The profile explains why he chose agriculture as the next step in his life.
A few friends were farmers, and that was appealing, but the element that drew Darko was the idea that he could master it. He was supposed to be a basketball wizard; that hadn’t quite worked out. Farming was another chance. Darko quickly became hooked. He traveled to Italy to look at famous orchards. He learned about soil and growing patterns and tree heights. He considered other types of fruits, then, after settling on apples, reviewed the varieties.
He invested $8 million into the apple farm and plans for it grow larger. He also has a lake on his property with over ten thousand fish. His next venture is cherries. He believes the financial return is cumbersome and the market is available.
Milicic appears to be living in a pastoral wonderland far from the frustrations he suffered from while in the NBA.