“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, while in the end I was spiting myself.” Milicic, drafted ahead of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, averaged 1.6 points and 1.2 rebounds in 96 games with the Pistons. He went on to play seven more seasons in the NBA, with stops in Orlando, Memphis, New York, Minnesota and Minnesota.
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Darko’s here again. He conducted an interview with Serbian news website B92.net, portions of which were translated by the fine folks at r/NBA, and he sounded like a man more comfortable in his skin. Milicic discussed each of his NBA stops with the sort of honesty you’d expect from the 7-foot Serbian. “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.
How is Darko doing now? Inquiring minds would sure like to know. “I’ve gained 90 pounds since I stopped playing,” he said. “I’m at 350 right now. I’m working at my farm and enjoying that kind of production. I take walks through my fields and watch the process, which makes me really happy. I’m still pretty inexperienced at this, so I like to learn, seek guidance, go to seminars. I’ve created my own peace of mind, and I’m enjoying it. There are always problems like in any other field of work, but I’d rather do this than build skyscrapers in the city, because I’d end up shooting myself. I think this is the most positive story of them all – food production and food in general is the future in every sense.”
“I met with [then-Wolves GM] David Kahn and told 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. When it’s not working it’s not working.’ He told me to join them for two weeks, and if I’m not feeling it I’m free to leave. My first year there actually went great. “My experience in the NBA was a catastrophe, because I’m a born winner. I don’t like losing, even in card games.
Darko Milicic: “It’s just simple, my career was how it was and I don’t miss that. I went to the NBA as a kid, barely 18, didn’t have the attitude I should have had.”
Darko Milicic: “I thought as a kid that talent was God-given, but it’s not. God gives you talent and you should use that talent with the real meaning of that word. I was stubborn. Maybe being young had something to do with it. There was option then of going to the NBA or staying in Serbia because Hemofarm knew that if I went to NBA they would get more money than they would get if I went to some European club. Here you had poverty and money was there.”
Darko Milicic: “Their system is cruel and I don’t like it. If a young player doesn’t succeed, they don’t look after him. That sucks. You have players who are first or second in the draft that get a chance to play. I didnt get the chance. LBJ is a killer now, but he did get a chance in his first year, he could shoot from the stands if he wanted. I barely got the chance. I had that situation in Orlando where if I shoot from perimeter, my coach Hill would yell, “Pass to Howard.” In Detroit nothing went right. Larry Brown always told me to go near the basket. They offered me a $40 million, four-year contract in Orlando, and then their manager blows it off, out of nowehere. My manager told me he would deal with it. I said OK, but just not Memphis. Anywhere but there. And, of course, I went to Memphis. Then I got injured, didn’t play much.
Darko Milicic: “I wanted to go back to Europe but then the Minnesota offer came. I tried to talk them out of of signing me, I said I won’t practice, I will make trouble in the locker room but they were persistent. They told me give it two weeks, if it doesn’t work you can go. I accepted, it was nice and I played but we didn’t win. Rambis was fired and after Adelman came I realized it’s not gonna work. Pekovic started playing well, and I thought, “Never mind, I’ll come off the bench.” But it just didn’t work. And then I just quit.
Darko Milicic: “I can’t play with American players. They only talked about who dunked on whom, who crossed over whom. I was weird to them because I didn’t think that way.”
Darko Milicic: “It’s all funny to me. I finally get a chance to play and (Mutombo) starts taunting me and daring me to fight. Why would I need that? I didn’t understand half of what he said. I mean, he’s been there 20 years and still doesn’t know the language well enough. Nobody in particular annoyed me, but Kobe Bryant is the dirtiest player with the things he does on the court… But without a doubt he is a beast. He was amazing.”
“I don’t miss basketball. I live very well, thank God. I have my interests, interests in agriculture,” says Darko Milicic in an exclusive interview for Blic.
Former NBA center Darko Milicic, a 7-foot Serb who spent 10 years with various teams after being the second overall pick in the 2003 draft behind LeBron James, has lost his first kickboxing fight. The 29-year-old Milicic sustained a bloody cut on his left leg in the first round of an exhibition match Thursday night against Serbian fighter Radovan Radojcic. The World Kickboxing Association bout had to be stopped in the second round on doctor’s orders. “The next time, it will be better,” Milicic said. “I’m invincible.”
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June 23, 2017 | 2:15 pm EDT Update
The Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers continue to discuss a Paul George trade but it is reportedly contingent on signing Gordon Hayward in free agency. According to sources, the Celtics are in position to trade for George with a three-year extension in place. George would lose money, however, on an extend-and-trade as opposed to the raises he could receive simply becoming a free agent in 2018.
As Baker’s career wound down, free spending and alcohol had drained his bank account to zero. His properties were foreclosed on. After three trips to rehab, he had one last chance to save himself. Then everything came together. One by one, he strung days of being sober together. A week became a month. Then a year. He found comfort in religion. “The fog cleared and I realized that everything I valued over the 15 years wasn’t that valuable,” Baker said. “My children and my love for basketball rose to the top.”
Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz, who owned the Seattle SuperSonics when Baker played there, took his call. Next thing Baker knew, he was putting on a green apron as Starbucks’ most famous barista. But that fame didn’t buy him much, other than a chance. He opened up the store at 3:45 a.m., ready to serve customers when they walked in at 4:30 a.m. Working 15 minutes away from his hometown in Connecticut, Baker found himself greeting familiar people every day, all of whom were surprised to see him behind the counter. “I never got down and asked why I was there because in my mind, it was just a gift to be alive,” Baker said.