(2003) Darko Milicic's 1st NBA game: Darko vs LeBron

I can still remember the ESPN Magazine article with the Serbian Gangster, Darko Milicic, saying he felt he deserved to be the #1 pick over LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. Most of us laughed at the quote but according to a few insiders who watched Darko workout, he wasn't just the real deal, he was a can't miss.

“He’s going to own the game. Own the game. We’re going to have to build a new arena. The only thing that could destroy a kid like that is a woman.”
Pistons scout Will Robinson talking about Darko Milicic after seeing him work-out in Detroit, May 30, 2003, ESPN.com

“Darko reminds me of a young Wilt Chamberlain. Wilt used to do a little of everything, and I haven’t seen a big man with so much skill since Wilt.”
Will Robinson, June 23rd Edition, ESPN the Magazine

“Darko really is one of a kind. He runs the floor, handles the ball, shoots an NBA three and plays with his back to the basket. So you can slot him at the 3, 4 or 5. Okay, a few other guys can do that too; what sets Darko apart is his toughness in the post. You’ve got to love a guy who has the footwork to spin by an opponent but still prefers to lower a shoulder and bang. Fact is, Milicic plays in attack mode at both ends of the floor. The more you push, the more he pushes back.”
Chad Ford, ESPN Insider, June 23rd Edition, ESPN the Magazine

“The brothers are going to respect him.”
Brett Forrest regarding Darko Milicic, June 23rd Edition, ESPN the Magazine

So on draft night, the Detroit Pistons drafted the bust of busts with their No. 2 pick over Melo, Bosh, Wade, etc, etc. etc. And on October 7th of 2003, Darko played his first minutes, which happened to be against the Cavs and their No. 1 pick LeBron James. Darko finished with three points in the preseason game. LeBron didn't exactly put up fantasy beast numbers with eight points, seven assists, and three rebounds but those three for Darko became routine, the same can't be said for the future Rookie Of The Year.

But, while LeBron was celebrating his Rookie of the Year trophy, Darko was celebrating the end of his season with the Larry O'Brien one.




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