Darko Milicic has always been a mysterious fellow. Even his name exudes mystery. He has played in four different teams since being drafted by the Detroit Pistons in the highly celebrated 2003 draft. He has also had stints with the Orlando Magic, the Memphis Grizzlies, the New York Knicks and the Minnesota Timberwolves. Now that he could be leaving the NBA to play overseas, I offer my two cents on the awkward, lazy, and enigmatic Darko Milicic.
From the beginning, Darko’s game and his life in the NBA has always been a guilty pleasure of mine. Sure he was a huge disappointment, and his nickname “the human victory cigar” was a quiet jab to the guy’s inability to be successful. He was like a team mascot to the Pistons in his time with the club. Larry Brown never gave him significant minutes and he was only showcased in blowouts and in meaningless situations. This of course, ruined what little confidence he had on his game. Darko became a slouch. He began to lose his love for the game and mentally checked out on the Pistons. He was supposed to be the next Kevin Garnett or whatever, but instead he became the next big bust.
His next stint wasn’t impressive either. Although he was given more playing time in Orlando, there were times when he would completely disappear. That was also the case when he went to Memphis and Minnesota. He would show flashes of brilliance followed by bouts of idiocy. Darko, in my eyes, became the ultimate tease. He would come in one day and score 20 points, 10 boards and 4 blocks; but then follow that up with three or four games of suck. What was even more disappointing was that he had games where he would pass the ball, score in the post, defend and block shots like a franchise player.
Milicic’s game revolved around how he felt that day. If his confidence was high, then he could showcase his skills and prove that he was worthy of the number 2 pick. Most of the time though, Milicic was afraid of his skills, afraid to be the best and afraid to use the talent that people would be envious of. In the end, Darko will leave a legacy of failed promises, of wasted potential and wasted opportunities. He will leave the NBA with so many what-ifs. He will leave the NBA the way he started it, with the mystery of what his career would have been.