The man, the myth, the legendary laughingstock. Darko Milicic comes to Boston (and on to Turkey) with a lot of baggage. There was the Chad Ford expose, The Draft, the bleached hair, the Human Victory Cigar, Free Darko, the Magic, the Grizzlies, the Knicks, the Timberwolves ("manna from Heaven"), and the amnesty.
Now he's in Boston on a minimum contract and he's already making people take notice of him. First there was this interesting quote from a few days ago.
"I'm done trying to prove I'm the No. 2 pick and that [expletive] stuff," Milicic told CSNNE.com. "This year, it's all about Celtics, to show that I am a team player. It's not about me. It's about us as a team. Milicic added: "I'll do whatever it takes, whatever I need to do to help this team. So now, if I have to go kill someone on the court, I'll kill someone on the court."
He might be trying too hard to fit in with Kevin Garnett on that comment. Let's dial it back a notch or two shall we? How about something simple like fishing?
Milicic began fishing as a child and took up the sport professionally five years ago. He has competed in carp fishing tournaments with his team, Melezra, during the offseason where he lives 45 minutes outside of Belgrade. "I fish carp professionally back home," said Milicic. "I go to the World Cups, European Championships. I have a team so that’s what I enjoy the most. I’ve got an RV here from the US. We travel, we fish for four to seven days straight."
There you have it. Darko is a pro's pro, even when he's relaxing. What could possibly go wrong?
Seriously though, the quotes that are most concerning are some comments from his last coach in Minny.
"At the end of the year, Rick [Adelman, Minnesota's head coach] gives me a report of what he thinks of each player," Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor told Twin Cities Business magazine. "He tells me it's the same one he gave David [Kahn, Minnesota's GM] and that David knows he is giving it to me. Then he goes through the list. He says, 'This is the first one I want gone' - that was (underachieving veteran center) Darko."
"He hasn't done anything to really give you a lot of faith that he's going to go out and do the job," Adelman said of Milicic in March. "He's gotten himself out of shape. He hasn't been as driven as you'd like so when a situation like this happens, it's time for someone to have their opportunity and get back in there."
When your coach is saying things like that about you and the team pays you to leave, that's never a good thing. That was then and this is now. Darko has a fresh start (again) and a chance to just fit in and be one of the guys on a team looking to compete. If he can't the Celtics can cut him with minimal loss. It would just be another chapter in his odd story.
The hope here is that he can write a better ending to this book. Something involving Ubuntu perhaps. We'll see. At least he's tall.
Bonus reading: Peter May's story on Darko
"I tell him every day, 'You're no longer Darko. You're a Celtic,' Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "And one day, we asked him what his name was and he said, 'Celtic.' And everyone just started laughing. All I'm trying to do is get him to forget about trying to be something he isn't -- and just be someone for the team."