The year of Darko Milicic
on 5/30/2004 (3)
When people think of the 2003-2004 Detroit Pistons, they don't think of their stifling defense or their game seven defeat of the New Jersey Nets, or their subsequent Eastern Conference Finals appearance. Most people think of the spectacular season of Darko Milicic. Darko averaged .2 points a game in the 34 games he made appearances in, not to mention .2 rebounds per game. These are impressive numbers for a veteran player, but even more impressive when you realize this is an 18-year-old rookie!
|Darko Milicic: The cornerstone of one of the most dominant defenses in NBA history. |
Detroit drafted Darko the second pick of the draft lottery just a year ago. His dominant play and bewildering fashion sense have sparked a Detroit defense that was best in the league. But what he brings to this team cannot be measured in statistics alone. He has been an ever-vigilant presence on the Detroit bench, encouraging teammates to "Play Hard" and "Give them heck". When the Pistons make a big play, Darko is always the first one cheering them on. And when a player returns to the bench, Darko is there with a cup of water. Darko always stays late to pick up the towels in the locker room after the game and he is always early to make sure everyone's jerseys have been placed in their lockers with care, a loving touch that has been missing ever since Bill Laimbeer left the Pistons to coach in the WNBA.
Despite all this, some skeptics have felt Darko was not the right man drafted and have even gone as far as calling him a pasty faced doughboy or a whiny douchebag that couldn't shoot his way out of a paper bag. Many of these skeptics feel that Carmelo Anthony would have been a far better choice, or even Dwayne Wade. But for those of us true fans that have watched Darko's development from a dark haired Nancy boy to a light haired mountain of muscle, we know the truth. We know that Darko is the best player out of the draft, far surpassing Carmelo Anthony, Dwayne Wade, and even King James himself (I'm talking Lebron James here, not the actual King).
Darko came out every game with an incredible passion and enthusiasm not since the days of Jon Barry. He brought energy and passion, and Gatorade, to the team with his mere presence on court. When the game was well in hand and the time was running out, who did Larry Brown look to? It wasn't Big Ben Wallace. It wasn't Rasheed. It wasn't even Rip Hamilton. No, it was Darko who got the nod to come into the game and close things out. His amazing play captivated the fans, fans whose "Darko, Darko!" chants would soon fill the arenas, shaking the very rafters of the building.
The future is bright for one Darko Milicic and his Detroit Pistons… Perhaps even brighter than his bleach blonde hair. As the Pistons approach the fifth game of their Eastern Conference Finals series with the Pacers, the fate of the game, the series, and the NBA championship undoubtedly lies with this amazing 18-year-old phenom.
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