For NBA junkies, the 2003 NBA Draft will be one of the classes that most will fondly remember.
LeBron James headlined that class which also included other top names that the four-time NBA champion eventually got to be teammates with. That list included Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade.
It is also worth noting that all of them were selected in the Top 5. But one name that was mysteriously picked second after James was a Serbian player named Darko Milicic.
Little was known about Milicic at that time although he was a 7-footer that any team would take a chance on.
He started playing at the age of 14 with Serbian team Hemofarm and blossomed from there.
Being selected second and next to LeBron James is a rare honor. The Detroit Pistons probably saw something in him, not to mention being a tall player that could address the team’s need for height at the time.
Unfortunately, the Serbian never lived up to expectations. In 468 games, he averaged just six points and 4.2 rebounds.
The best he produced was for the Orlando Magic in 2007, where he normed 12.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, and an assist in four games.
With his NBA career sputtering, Milicic also tried his hand in the mixed martial arts scene. He appeared in only one fight and lost. He would eventually end up focusing on agriculture.
With a forgettable NBA career, Serbian sports journalist Nenad Rankovic shared his insights on Milicic when he appeared on the Sports For All PH podcast hosted by Vincent Juico with Brian Yalung.
“Darko is an impulsive guy. He is also a very good guy and a nice man,” Rankovic started. “I think that money, came so early for Darko. He comes from a small country and then one moment [he gets] big money. America, USA, nightlife and everything [was just] gone.”
Through it all, Rankovic agreed that focusing on playing pro basketball was the main problem that Milicic failed to do.
“Definitely, focus was his problem. He could have had a better career. He had a lot of talent, had a lot of basketball but focus was his big problem,” the Serbian sports scribe shared.
Rankovic was also asked if he had any background on Milicic before he entered the 2003 NBA Draft.
According to him, Rankovic played somewhat similar to Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets.
“He played really good here in Serbia. I think that his career was something similar like Nikola Jokic,” Rankovic said.
In 2017, Milicic was interviewed by Serbian outlet B92 and shed more light on his forgettable NBA tenure.
“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,” Milicic said at that time.
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