The NBA never was the right place for Darko Milicic.
It’s no secret the 7-foot Serbian, who you’ll probably remember as the guy the Detroit Pistons selected with the No. 2 pick in the 2003 draft behind LeBron James, wasn’t the hardest working man in the NBA. But most people likely don’t know the half of what he was going through.
Milicic recently described his dark journey through the NBA in an interview with Serbian sports website B92.net, and Reddit helped translate it.
“I could say I didn’t get a proper chance, but that’s simply an excuse,” Milicic said, via Yahoo! Sports. “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. …
“So yeah, I was the problem. That initial dissatisfaction probably led to me starting to hate and not enjoy playing.”
Milicic takes plenty of responsibility for his career, but teams along the way certainly made it worse. The 31-year-old said he was happy on the Orlando Magic, where he was traded during the 2005-06 season, and thought he worked well with Dwight Howard. The team didn’t think so, however, and Milicic went on to sign with the Memphis Grizzlies, where he previously told the Magic not to send him.
And that’s where things got even worse for Milicic.
“Of course I went to Memphis, where I went through two years of classic depression,” Milicic told B92.net. “I was just crossing the dates off the calendar because I couldn’t function anymore. Physically you’re there, but mentally you aren’t. Whatever you do, there’s no chance of being successful. It was really hard. Mentally, I was completely worn out. Everyone has bad periods in their careers, but it was harder for me since my whole experience was negative and that wasn’t what I expected.”
Milicic was traded to the New York Knicks and wanted to go back to Europe to try to get out of his deep depression and play better. But the Minnesota Timberwolves traded for Milicic, even though he begged them not to, telling then-general manager David Kahn: “I’ll ruin your team. I’ll f— up the team chemistry.”
Milicic didn’t even want to talk about the five minutes he played for the Boston Celtics because he didn’t want to be there in the first place. He asked to be released in November 2012 to attend to a personal matter back home, and he’s been in Serbia since then.
The story has a happy ending, though, as Milicic is now living a less hectic life on his farm in Serbia.
“I take walks through my fields and watch the process, which makes me really happy,” Milicic said. “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.”
Thumbnail photo via YouTube/Minnesota Timberwolves