"The NBA for me is not the way that I want to be,'' said Milicic, averaging 2.0 points and 8.9 minutes while having been benched for eight of the Knicks' 16 games, before not playing in his team's 128-125 loss to Denver at the Pepsi Center. "Looking forward, the stuff that I'm looking for is for me to play and for to me enjoy playing. I think right now the only spot for me is Europe.
"Because growing up and playing basketball, I needed the ball in my hands. I used to create for myself and I used to create for others. I used to play a lot. That's the kind of stuff I'm looking for. And for me to get that in the NBA right now, I don't think so. And I've got to be real.''
Darko claims he hasn't already determined his future, but I'd put my money on a return to his native continent. There are two sides to this story, both reasonable. Darko's right that he's never quite gotten a fair shot in the NBA. Team after team has benched him, with the Knicks being no exception, and disappointingly so. In Serbia, he's got a wife and a newborn, all of his friends and family, and from the sound of things, a couple ball clubs that would pay him well and let him spin. On the flip side, it's readily evident that Darko's tendency to march to the beat of his own drummer and coast at times has put him out of favor with pretty much every NBA coach he's encountered. In the real world, there's a niche for that. In the more-or-less military format of team sports, that ain't gonna fly. Darko's a talented baller, but he seems too meta-conscious, too brooding, and too engrossed in personal slights from coaches, teammates, and referees to be fully effective on the hardwood. He's a singer-songwriter trapped in a 7-foot frame.
To his credit, Milicic is a self-aware man. He seems to understand that his persona doesn't quite fit into the NBA framework, and he's perfectly willing to look elsewhere to keep himself satisfied. Darko is too cool for American basketball. In fact, he might be too cool for basketball entirely.
Update: This post should probably have a link to Free Darko, just because.