I tried to stop the Detroit Pistons from drafting Darko Milicic
Prior to the 2003 NBA draft I’d become friends with a postman from Spain named Jasima. He liked to attend and scout European basketball games, and he was also a Detroit Pistons fan. And he loved GM Joe Dumars because he played for the Bad Boys Pistons, who won titles in 1989 and 1990.
“We keep hearing that the Pistons want to draft Darko with the second pick,” Jasima told me. “Tell Joe don’t do it. The guy can’t play.”
Jasmi said Milicic worked out well. If you only saw him workout you had to have him. But it was a different story if you saw him play in a game. He looked lost. All his skills diminished.
Jasmi worked on me for a solid month. Tell Joe not to draft Darko. I listened to him because he told me about a German kid named Dirk who he believed would develop into a decent NBA player. He was right.
I explained to him that if I told the Pistons not to draft Darko and he became an all-star my ass is grass in Detroit.
“You will become a hero in Detroit if you can get the Pistons to avoid this terrible mistake,” he said.
My chance to save the Detroit Pistons
The Pistons held a press conference at the Palace, which was my chance to get an audience with Joe Dumars. Afterwards I told Dumars what my friend said.
“Who is this guy,” Dumars said. “What does he know about basketball?”
I told Joe that Jasmi was a postman. So who was Joe going to listen to? Me and a postman? Or a room full of scouts who had convinced him this was the best pick in the draft behind LeBron James?
Later I discovered one of the people in the Pistons front office had an agreement with an agent. If he could get his clients drafted high, he’d get a kickback. The agent represented Darko.
Milicic became one of the biggest busts in NBA history. He averaged 6.0 points and 4.2 rebounds during his career. Worse yet, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade came off the board after Darko.
Darko spent much of his 2 1/2 seasons in Detroit pinned to the bench and getting hammered day drinking after practice.