Saturday, August 5, 2017

ESPN: Finding Darko

This past Wednesday, ESPN published this fantastic piece by Sam Borden about retired NBA centre Darko Milicic.

Yes, that Darko.

from Detroit Free Press

Milicic was frequently the butt of jokes during his surprisingly long NBA career (2003-2012). Those who watched the 2003 NBA Draft recall the following draft order:

1. LeBron James
2. Darko Milicic
3. Carmelo Anthony
4. Chris Bosh
5. Dwyane Wade

Four of those five went on to do great things in the NBA. LeBron James has appeared in seven straight NBA Finals, winning three, among countless other accomplishments. Carmelo Anthony has career averages of 24.8 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. Dwyane Wade has won three NBA championships, two of them coming with the aforementioned James. Chris Bosh has won two NBA championships, on those same Miami Heat teams with James and Wade. Bosh is also the only Toronto Raptor to ever average 20+ points and 10+ rebounds in the same season - thus far. (He's done it thrice.)

Milicic never made it in the NBA. No worries, though. He made $52 million, learned a lot about life, and now runs his own fruit farm in his home Serbia, near his hometown of Novi Sad.

He looks happy and healthy. A monk from his local monastery put it best (from the linked ESPN article at the top):

The monks see Darko differently than everyone else. When I ask Father Joanikije what he thinks of Darko as a person, he pauses for a beat or two, then says, "A man who succeeded in life. A man who achieved his goal."
... 
They just see a man who has a wife and children and a business and a comfortable life and a place in the community of his hometown. They see a man who achieved his goal or, at the very least, is trying to right now. So why can't they be right?
Milicic mentions farming apples and cherries, two of my favourite fruits.

from the ESPN article mentioned above
Sometimes success comes in surprising places. Looking at it from a detached view, five years after Milicic's retirement, it doesn't seem that surprising that someone who seemed so unnatural in the NBA would return home to Serbia, put his money to good use, and put his efforts into something he loves.

Sounds delicious to me.