You must think that I am crazy for saying that there is a more important draft than the one that produced Michael Jordan. And if you think that’s crazy, listen to this, I think Darko Milicic was a more important draft pick for the future of this league, than Michael Jordan.
Blasphemous. I know. But hear me out, I am not suggesting that Darko is a more important player for the history of the league, just a more important draft pick. My brother didn’t buy it either, but I’m still going to try to persuade y’all.
It was amazing to hear Darko blame the Pistons for the setbacks in his career while reading a recent article on him in the NYTimes. In his mind, it’s as if there was no way off of the bench for him. The strange thing about this is that Darko has been a bench player during his entire career. He was on the bench on his club team in
In hindsight everyone knows that
If you’re a Pistons fan it must pain you to watch Chris Webber limp up and down that court knowing that your team could’ve easily had a frontline of Tayshaun Prince, Rasheed Wallace and Chris Bosh. Worst of all, it must really hurt to hear Joe Dumars refuse to admit his error.
But none of this really explains why I think Darko might be the most important draft pick in NBA history. There have been other players who did not live up to expectations, and Darko may very well end up being another Raef LaFrentz, who is the player he most reminded me of when I heard about Darko in 2003. However, there has never been a player in the annals of sports so gratuitously mythologized—nor has there ever been an organization to so blatantly fall for that myth. Sure the NFL produces a workout freak every year during its draft, but those players are still often alumni of top football programs, and not semi-pro players off of the street, which is essentially what Darko was when the Pistons drafted him. I’d go a step further and say that Darko was the NBA version of the fake pitcher that Sports Illustrated chronicled in an article in the late 80s who had a 110mph fastball and sundry other skills that were off the charts. In that article SI was poking fun at the cult of baseball scouting and the legendary characteristics often attributed to phenoms. No baseball team was misguided enough to draft that player, but for some reasons, with a wealth of NBA ready talent in their backyard, the Pistons saw fit to travel to the outskirts of Europe to check out the 18 year old seven footer who can run, jump, shoot threes, block shots and chew gum at the same time.
How ironic, that while Darko continues putting up inconsistent nights for the Magic and tries to convince himself that he’s actually an NBA caliber player, the magical 18 year old prototype who the Pistons were fawning over will be making his first all-star start. Although his name isn’t Darko, it’s Chris Bosh.
As of now we should be prepared to measure Darko not by his career output, especially in comparison to his other draft classmates, but to critically consider how deftly he and his agents, and their number one cheerleader at the time ESPN’s Chad Ford, hustled the Pistons into drafting him.
The Nightshift Chronicler