Former Detroit Piston Darko Milicic Says ‘I Was the Problem'; Admits to Drinking Before Practices
When Pistons fans hear the name Darko Milicic, they tend to think dark(o) thoughts. The number two pick from the 2003 draft came to the Pistons the same year that the Cavaliers got LeBron with the first pick and the Denver Nuggets got Carmelo Anthony with the third pick.
Darko was supposed to be the great, white hope for the Pistons, but that never really panned out, and he ended his time with the Pistons only averaging 1.6 points per game. He became a bit of a joke between Pistons fans, looking like a tall, gangly boy band member with his sometimes bleached hair, or sometimes frosted tips.
But what was the problem? Was it a lack of guidance from coach Larry Brown? Was it the fact that Milicic came from Europe and simply wasn't up to par with American players?
According to Darko, it was neither of those things. Darko says he failed because of him.
In an interview with Serbian news site B92.net, Milicic spelled out the problems that plagued him when he played with the Pistons, and later in his career when he played for the Orlando Magic, Memphis Grizzlies, New York Knicks, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Boston Celtics.
(A big thanks to the folks in the NBA subreddit for translating, because the Google translation made no sense at all...)
Darko admitted to B92 that if he had it all to do again, he would go about things a lot differently, saying,
I'd do a lot of things differently now. It's true that I ended up on a team that was trying to win a ring, which rarely happens to a #2 pick, but in the end, we're all looking for alibis. I could say i didn't get a proper chance. However, that's simply an alibi; it's up to a young player to prove himself, work hard and wait for his chance. My approach was completely different, as a #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 admits that he was in the game solely for himself, and wasn't willing to put in the work to make himself the top-notch player he had the potential to be.
So yeah, I was the problem. That initial dissatisfaction probably led to me starting to hate and not enjoy playing. There were some situations where I've already scored 20 points, but in my head I'm thinking: "When will this game finally end, come on, let's pack it up and go home."
These days, Milicic is living a simpler life. He says he's gained 30 pounds, and spends his days working and walking around his farm.