An American Tale: The NBA Free Agent Sleeper

Posted: July 6, 2010 by The Cheap Seat Fan in NBA
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America is a great country. Truly the land of opportunity.

Lady Liberty shows her mercy again....."Give me your tired, your (not so) poor....your busted Lottery Flameouts"

Opportunity after opportunity after opportunity.

You can come to America as nothing and become something huge, and reap the benefits of such success. Isn’t it great? However, there are exceptions to every rule and scenario. Anomalies if you will. Proof you can reap the benefits of success…..without having any to speak of.

In the case of Serbian import Darko Milicic, the very fabric of the American dream is flipped over and distorted, while still staying beautifully intact. But isn’t this what makes America so tough? The ability to survive while adapting? Or maybe its ability to spit in the wind repeatedly and still be able to present an acceptable image. One or the other.

Darko IS the American Dream, remixed. Despite being the worst example of the NBA’s import program, the Minnesota Timberwolves reward his excellence at bucking the system with a 4 year, $15 million contract to continue to provide aspiring overseas employees with a shining example of how “The Land of Opportunity” awaits them and their much hollowed “potential” can change their fortunes from European bench warmer to NBA Lotto member.

The re-definition of D-Day....boom goes the dynamite.

In the current showing of the American Dream we will look at The Curious Case of Mr. Milicic, who goes against the grain like chainsaw against butter. Only Darko didn’t come to America as the traditional underdog, who made it big. He has proven to be (save for JaMarcus Russell) perhaps the biggest OVERdog in the last decade of professional American sports. He came to the US as the part of the biggest thing since the wheel and Y2K, the 2003 NBA Draft Class. Along with LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, this group was projected to redefine the NBA for the next decade at least.

The Good News: 80% of the group obliged. The (really) Bad News: 20% didn’t.

That 20% was predicted to be the foreign answer to Kevin Garnett, the proof that Europe had way more to offer than jump shooting specialist “power” forwards with impossible to spell, let alone say names for American broadcasters (see Nikoloz Tskitishvili, Bostjan Nochbar or Primoz Brezec). The proof that Dirk Nowitzki wasn’t alone in import value. That 20% was supposed to fit the status quo, it was supposed to blow it apart. Needless to say not only did he fit it, he blew it apart and redefine it for future generations.

He was put in an impossible situation. He was transitioning from a much lesser European game and coming into a situation with tremendous hype. Problem was (and is), his peers were coming in with matching credentials. Behind the #1 pick Juggernaut of Hype LeBron James, he was clear to not have to be better than the only guy taken in front of him. However he did need to at least compete with the guys behind him. Let’s take a look at were these guys were and have gone to in the last 7 years.

#3: Carmelo Anthony-Coming In: Led Syracuse to a National Championship and was Final Four Most Outstanding Player… a freshman. Since: 3 All-Star games, an Olympic Gold Medal and 24.7 career scoring average.

#4: Chris Bosh-Coming In: 2003 ACC Rookie of the Year & led 40-0 High School team in USA Today National Championship. Since: 5 time All-Star, Olympic Gold Medal and 20 point per game career scoring average

#5: Dwyane Wade-Coming In: Consensus 1st Team All-America, triple double in NCAA tourney vs. Kentucky. Since: NBA Finals MVP, 6 time All-Star, Olympic Gold Medal and 25.4 career scoring average.

Talk about bad roommates….damn. Not exactly the easiest company to be associated with when you’re averaging a robust 5.6 PPG and 4.3 RPG lifetime. Even 2003 #6 pick Chris Kaman has been an All-Star, for the Clippers for God’s sake, and they are his personal running joke since 1984. For comparison’s sake, Wade outscored Milicic’s entire career in 2008-09 by 310 points and almost topped his career in two other seasons by less than a 20 point difference.

You can work your way from the penthouse to the outhouse....and back again. Ask Darko.

But hey, who said all legacies have to be made on the court? He still made history along with his famous Draftmates. From a distorted, new age Sam Bowie perspective.

Somebody who’s first name rhymes with Low and last name with Lunars dropped the ball, badly. But also set the standard for job security himself, despite totally failing at his role as a talent successor/manager (Detroit must be the most considerate city in America, considering Matt Millen kept his job the same way). I know winning a championship helps get some slack, but come on.

However, there is one number that stands out.


It is the number that separates him from It’s the average number of blocks that Darko averages over his career.

Darko brings a strong veteran presence and strong work ethic to Minnesota at least.....right?

Carmelo, Wade or Bosh can’t best that! Apparently it is what makes him a $15 million dollar “defensive presence” that is needed as the final plug-in to the Timberwolves current tragedy of a collection of lottery picks and lead them back to the land being able to select more players of his timeless stature in the game. Or maybe it was his threat to leave the United States after last season that sparked the Minnesota brass to jump at the opportunity to add one the key members of Holy 2003 Draft class in this current free agent race. Better one than none, right?

No matter how you look at it, Darko’s re-imagining of the American dream serves as an example we should all take note of. He is an inspiration and role model for all that do just enough to pass at workplaces around the country and his case should stand as example that you can do sub-par work and still expect job security and a raise.

America the Beautiful indeed.

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Matt Whitener. Matt Whitener said: NEW POST "An American Tale: The NBA Free Agent Sleeper" : …..The timeless story of the Immortal Darko Milicic #NBA […]

  2. […] here: An American Tale: The NBA Free Agent Sleeper « Cheap.Seats.Please. Related postsDan Siegel: Lakers Fans, Be Ever So Grateful! | Times Daily BlogKobe Bryant […]

  3. […] 2. Darko Milicic (’03-Pistons): I’ve been down this road before. Enjoy my take on Darko and his “American Tale” from this summer. […]

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