Because of all the variables involved, the NBA Draft is an inexact science at best. Although many top selections, do play well enough to justify when they went in the Draft; there have been plenty of players that either proved to be amazing steals, or cataclysmic busts. There have been selections that just were not as good as NBA scouts expected them to be, while others failed; betrayed by their body’s fragility. Some have had the skills to make it, but their bad attitude has doomed to failure, while others give it their all, but can not adapt their game to one that worked in the Association.
Then there is the player in the Association; who was truly just a “victim of circumstance” the proverbial “wrong guy, in the wrong place, at the worst possible time,” Darko Milicic. According to a report from “Yahoo Sports,” the veteran big man seems to be ready to leave the Boston Celtics, whom he signed a Free Agent contract with this off-season; to head back to his home in Serbia, to take care of his ailing mother.
The “Boston Globe” reported Tuesday that Celtics bench boss Doc Rivers, believes that the nine-year veteran will be heading back to Europe for good with his departure, leaving his career in the Association behind him. Rivers told reporters “Most likely (he will be gone for good), yeah. Honestly the stuff with his family has been going on for a while. We’ve talked about it three or four times. It’s probably 50-50, but once you get the one side working, it’s always going to win out. It doesn’t look like (he’ll return.) His mom gets sick; he’s not playing, the whole sickness, it happens. I didn’t fight it much. I told him he’s got to do what he thinks is right. I am going to support him one way or the other. But it’s been going on for a little bit now. You could see a change when he found out she wasn’t doing well, no doubt about that.”
So, it seems that the NBA career of the second player chosen in one of the strongest drafts in the history of the Association, is ending with a whimper and not a bang. The handwriting has been on the wall for years, although Milicic and his supporters, did their best to ignore it. Being selected by the Detroit Pistons and his subsequent stint with the team; eroded his confidence and pushed his NBA trajectory so off the path, he never recovered.
Darko took one last shot signing with Boston, however the fit apparently was not right as he played just five minutes in the opening game of the campaign, which would be his only time on the court this season. Milicic had spent the last couple of seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves, first under head coach Kurt Rambis who believed in him and convinced him to stay in the Association, rather than resume his career in Europe. The big man was ready to do that when he was playing for the New York Knicks, before they traded him to the T-Wolves. Unfortunately for Darko, he failed to impress the man who replaced Rambis as bench boss for Minnesota, Rick Adelman. His playing time cut drastically, pulled from the starting lineup the T-Wolves showed no interest in bringing him back for this season.
When Milicic was in New York, he said that he had been mislead by every team he ever played for starting with the Pistons. He told reporters “Yes, they did. “They lie to everybody. It’s the NBA. The NBA, all around the league, same (stuff). ‘Your chance is going to come.’ All that kind of (stuff). (Forget) that! I’ve got enough of that kind of stuff, so I decided I’m going to Europe. I don’t know why they took me with the second pick if you’re not going to play me. I never understood that, you know. I was happy being the second pick and all that kind of stuff, but I never knew what I got myself into. I never knew I was coming here not to play. Nobody was telling me anything. I’ve got to be real. There is no team in the league that is going to give me the chance that I’m looking for. My only chance is back in Europe. I’m going to do that. I want to be happy. I want to play.”
Darko regained his confidence because of the belief that Rambis showed in him, but any hopes he had of turning his career around, may have ended when Minnesota canned the former Lakers player. Milicic, deserved a better fate than he received in the Association, but he is not the first or the last to see their dreams go awry.