The former No.2 pick in the 2003 draft and one of the biggest busts in the NBA history, Darko Milicic, decided to come back from the retirement. He recently became a part of the lower league team called I Came to Play in his native Serbia.
After seven years without a club and not playing a single game, one of the most talented big fellas ever, who couldn’t find his way in the NBA, felt a need to get back on the floor. His team I Came to Play is mostly built from the retired players, some of them former internationals. But also, the team is, in fact, made from a group of Milicic’s old friends who often played ball with him.
After seven years out from basketball, Darko Milicic has played first official game for Serbian team from Novi Sad "I came to play".
The 2nd pick of the 2003 NBA draft scored 2 points in a win against Futog before he suffered a minor shoulder injury. pic.twitter.com/l2n6JWyKRF
— NBA Serbia (@NBASrbija) October 7, 2019
In his first game, ICTP defeated Futog with 78-50, and despite playing for a while, Milicic scored only two points. It was a strong dunk from the paint, which showed that even thou he has 24 years and surely over 300 pounds, he is still athletic enough.
It was obvious that he didn’t want to use his size and physical advantage on the much shorter opponents. He focused on assisting his teammates and creating space with screens. SPENS hall, where the game took place, was filled with reporters coming from various countries. Many of them noticed his movement, saying that without some weight, Milicic would most definitely be able to play in any of the top European clubs.
Though, his temperament is still hot. After one of the opponents scored a floater over him and did a little bit of trash talk, Milicic sent him on the floor immediately in the next attack while running towards the paint.
“We are aware that the opponents are going to be highly motivated whenever, and wherever we play,” stated one of his teammates.
The former NBA player would later leave the game due to a minor shoulder injury.
The whole idea of his comeback back is to promote basketball. Along with Jovo Stanojevic, who won the gold medal at the Universiade leaving Team USA in the third place, he will try to inspire and motivate young kids to dedicate their future to the sport.
ICTP plays in the lowest division of the Serbian basketball, and their opponents will be from the places which have just a few hundreds of residents. And yet, those people will have to see one of the most famous basketball players in the world.
After leaving America in 2012, when he asked to be released from the Boston Celtics, Milicic came back home. He started his business with apples and other fruit, building a huge plantages implementing the latest technological standards while doing it. He also wanted to get away from public life and was avoiding the media, completely changing his behavior.
Milicic would often say to the media at home that the old himself does not exist anymore. He became a peaceful and calm guy who finally started to see the whole world with different eyes after experiencing multiple challenges in his life.
Darko is one of the biggest philanthropists in Serbia, and he is often donating large sums of money to various foundations. On several occasions, he personally paid for expensive treatments of the young kids who had rare conditions. He didn’t want to create any publicity while doing so and never wanted his name to appear.
Back in 2001, Milicic came to the Detroit Pistons as the potential Hall of Famer, according to Joe Dumars at the time. But he couldn’t find his spot in the lineup, and along with Larry Brown’s rigid stance towards him, Darko soon became a bust. After leaving the Motor City, he played for Orlando Magic, Memphis Grizzlies, New York Knicks, Minnesota Timberwolves, and finally, one game for the Celtics.
Following that decision, the Serb received numerous offers from Europe to come back an play. Real Madrid and Barcelona offered him serious money, but he didn’t want to face basketball anymore. At the time, it was a huge burden for him that made him feel imprisoned.
But now, Darko Milicic is back, with a much brighter view on the game, which made him famous.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.