Although his basketball career was more – brief – than beast…What ever happened to the second overall pick in the 2003 NBA draft?
After spending 10 seasons with six different teams in the NBA, Darko Milicic, the 7-foot-center from Serbia and one of the biggest busts in the NBA and the entire history of sports, officially announced his retirement from the NBA in June.
Darko Milicic was drafted in 2003 after the young high school phenom LeBron James and was selected by the Detroit Pistons before the names of Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh.
The Detroit Pistons were a NBA franchise that at the time were confident in their second overall pick in 03’ and were looking to prove to everyone in the basketball world that the foreign big man would be a Piston superstar in the future.
At the time, the Pistons already had a high-powered roster that made the Eastern Conference Finals the year before. Unlike many teams with high-draft picks, the Pistons were a good team that received the 2nd overall pick in the 2003 draft via a trade with The Vancouver Grizzlies in 1997.
In his rookie season, Darko played 34 games, averaged 1.4 points per game while averaging five minutes per game. Even with the lack of minutes and being on the bench for most of his rookie season, it wasn’t all downhill for Milicic just yet. At the end of his rookie season, Milicic was the youngest foreign NBA player to appear and win in the NBA Finals as Detroit defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in 2004.
So in a way, Milicic won a ring before LeBron – but don’t start rubbing it in the Miami Heat’s superstar face, as Milicic only kept the bench warm for his fellow teammates during the playoffs.
The Serbian ball player never saw the light as a Piston, and admitted being suppressed by then-Pistons head coach Larry Brown. He was later traded to the Orlando Magic in 2006. After only spending one year with the Magic, Milicic had brief stints with the Memphis Grizzlies and the New York Knicks before being traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2010.
Due to the league’s amnesty clause, Milicic was waived by the Timberwolves after playing for two years in Minnesota.
After playing just one regular season game with the Boston Celtics the year after, Milicic was released at his request to attend to personal matters.
The 28-year-old averaged six points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game in his career, and although he never lived up to his expectations and often found himself being on the wrong end of basketball jokes – Milicic did end up scooping nearly $53 million in total career earnings.
His career was a disappointment and basketball fans never saw the dominant inside presence he was supposed to become in one of the most talented draft classes ever.
It’s safe to say, that the Darko days are over.
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