Merely saying the full name, Darko Milicic, feels redundant and pedantic. All you need to say is, “Darko” and you’ll have summoned in the minds of an entire generation of sports fans the very idea of a “bust.” He’s the anti-Lebron.
A lot went wrong for Milicic, 31, who was the No. 2 pick in the 2003 NBA draft and who retired in 2012 having averaged 6.0 points in 468 career games.
Now in a reflecting stage of life, Milicic sat down with a Serbian site called b92. That interview was translated on Reddit at r/nba, and I found it at SBNation. Milicic explains that he was more or less miserable his entire NBA career, that he was playing to satisfy his own ego, and that he never worked hard enough to be good.
But the most amazing tale in all this is the time Milicic was with the Knicks, not playing, and screwing around all the time. They were going to trade him to the Minnesota Timberwolves, and Milicic in no uncertain terms warned T-Wolves executive David Kahn it was a bad idea.
After that I went to New York, where I continued doing stupid stuff. The coach finally got fed up, so I was doing pushups and situps during games and drinking milkshakes in the gym. So I decided to go back to Europe, I was young enough and could still get back on track. However, NY wanted to trade me to Minnesota. I met with 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 2 weeks, and if I’m not feeling it I’m free to leave. My first year there actually went great.
This is true. In the middle of the 2009-10 season, the Timberwolves traded Brian Cardinal to the Knicks for Milicic and some cash. Milicic averaged a career-high 8.3 points and 5.5 rebounds for the Timberwolves during the rest of the year, then averaged 8.8 points in 69 games the next season. Still just 25 years old, there was hope Milicic could still be a productive player in the NBA.
He played in just 30 more games and was out of the league by 27.
Milicic now weighs 350 pounds and works on a farm.
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.
It’s a strange thing to say about someone who is 7-feet tall and was picked second in the NBA draft, but professional sports aren’t for everybody, even if they have the talent. Whether because of his circumstance, his own makeup, a lack of maturity, or some combination of all three, Milicic didn’t like playing in the NBA.
At least he was honest about it.