by Eric Woodyard
Although the Detroit Pistons won the NBA Championship during the ‘03-04 season, the 2003 NBA Draft still haunts them to this day.
With the second pick in the draft, the Pistons selected Serbia’s Darko Milicic passing on elite players such as Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh! Not only did Milicic not play in Detroit, he has been nothing more than a journeyman throughout his six-year career. Playing for the Orlando Magic, Memphis Grizzlies and currently the New York Knicks after his time in the D. His best statistical season came in ‘07-08 when he averaged 8 points and 5.5 rebounds with the Magic.
Not bad, huh? Well, it’s terrible when you put his numbers in perspective — even his draftmates’ worst seasons were leagues better than Darko’s best. On the eve of announcing that he would return overseas after the season, saying “the NBA for me is not the way that I want to be,” I caught up with Darko. He and I sat in the visitor’s locker room at the Palace of Auburn Hills to talk about his time as a Bad Boy.
SLAM: Obviously you’re coming back to the Palace. Are there any hard feelings with the team or anything like that?
Darko Milicic: No. That’s the past. I didn’t play, and they didn’t want me to play, and I don’t understand why they took me with the second pick if they were not gonna play me. I didn’t get it but that’s the past and it’s behind me. So that’s it.
SLAM: Is it pretty emotional? Do you feel like you ever have something to prove?
DM: No, it was different for me the first couple of games because I used to be here as a home game and then the first couple of games to come here as the opposite tables, it was kinda different. So it was a different feeling. But right now it’s a different team, and they have a different team, and I already changed like three teams. So for me coming here… I know I used to be here, but it’s nothing like special or anything.
SLAM: Do you ever get mad when people say they wasted a pick when they could’ve got Dwyane Wade or…
DM: They did! No, they did waste a pick, you know. Why did they take me? Who knows if I really had a chance to play like these players that play like Dwyane Wade or Carmelo, those guys are incredible players. So for me, being a second pick, I don’t get why they didn’t play me at all and, secondly, they did waste, you know? Why did they take me? You should take someone that they really think was gonna play right away because just taking someone to sit on the bench, you waste a pick and you waste the guy’s time. You wasted my time for three years not playing so you f**k up a player and you f**k up yourself, and I just didn’t get it. So I just didn’t get it. I guess they thought they were gonna be champions forever. I don’t know.
SLAM: So what was like your favorite memory here? Obviously y’all won a championship here, but do you have any good memories?
DM: Really, I didn’t have any favorite memories of playing here. Like I said, I didn’t have no fun on the court.
SLAM: Was it any one situation?
DM: I cant really remember. Nah. All those times that I did play, I played in the last couple of minutes in the game when they was 20 up or 20 down, so I don’t think that’s any fun for anyone. Not for me, I don’t know for other people, but I got a couple times I got to play in the pre-season but that’s it. In the Miami game, in one game that I got in, I had that dunk but didn’t much come on the court.