Matt on 08 23, 2009
Why did Darko Milicic fail? I blame Larry Brown. For 2 and a half seasons with the Pistons, Larry Brown never played Darko meaningful minutes. Darko got about 5 minutes a game, all coming in garbage time. Someone in the media even nicknamed him “The human victory cigar“, because he only got on the court after the game was decided, a Pistons win or loss.
How can you expect a young talent to improve if he’s playing once or twice a week for 5 minutes? You have to throw rookies and young guys into the mix and let them make mistakes and learn. Darko never got that chance, and was completely mentally destroyed from the hellish years in Detroit.
Now, some say with Rasheed and Ben Wallace on the team, there was no room for Darko in the rotation. Mehmet Okur was getting some of the backup time. But really? Darko couldn’t sniff the court, at all? He couldn’t have gotten in at the end of a quarter or two and worked up a sweat? Learned a few things? He was the #2 pick! He had to have some talent! He’s got to have the opportunity to play. How often does a #2 pick not get a chance to prove himself with the team that drafted him? Maybe the pick wouldn’t have been such a disaster if Brown gave him the opportunity to play and contribute.
Brown should’ve slowly increased his minutes, and occasionally gave him minutes in crunch time at least in the regular season to get his feet wet. What coach doesn’t let the #2 pick play any meaningful minutes? So disappointing. It sounds funny, but Darko may have been a good player. Larry Brown may have completely ruined Darko. It may shock people, but Larry Brown isn’t the perfect coach. He royally messed this one up.
Now sure, some say that if Detroit had drafted Carmelo, Tayshaun wouldn’t have developed into the lockdown defender that he did, shutting down Kobe Bryant in the 2004 NBA Finals, the absolute key to the series. Dumars felt he could gamble with a project like Darko because his team was good enough in the meantime.
But Larry Brown didn’t even attempt to develop the project that was Darko. He ignored it, almost completely. For a guy who loves taking on team projects, Larry didn’t even try with Darko. I know I’m in the minority with this, but I really believe Larry Brown ruined Darko’s NBA career.