This Darko Thing Just Might Work Out
Nine years later, he is still only 27, and his reputation as an underachiever has been cemented. Milicic understands that stardom or even widespread respect probably never will come. At this point in his career, he just wants to be comfortable, appreciated, and not constantly reminded about 2003.
Milicic says he just wants to be accepted and allowed to be himself. He has a naturally shy demeanor, and the past nine years haven’t exactly helped him overcome his insecurities.
But the Celtics have welcomed him heartily. At Wednesday’s practice, Rivers joked with Milicic as he stood on the sideline, taking a break from the scrimmage, trying to get him more comfortable with the team concept. Milicic appreciated the gesture.
“Everybody is here for you. Everybody is sticking together, playing together, fighting for each other. That’s what the team is all about. “It’s not about one guy trying to make big money, a contract. Here they don’t care about that. “That’s what I see when I play against them and now that I’m here, that’s what it is.”
Milicic, who signed a one-year deal with the Celtics last month, needs only to come into games to spell Kevin Garnett — to rebound, play defense, and use his massive size (listed at 7 feet, 275 pounds) to his advantage. If he does that, he will have satisfied the Celtics’ requirements after spending the first nine years of his career leaving his teams and fans wanting more, much more.
First there was the picture of Darko laughing with KG (above). Then there was video of Darko playfully inserting himself between Celtics who were exchanging words. Now we have Doc making an effort to have the Dark Lord feel welcome.
I've been hot and cold with this acquisition. I'm rooting for him because of the name on the front of his jersey. It's the name on the back that left me hot and cold. One day I post reasons to like the signing, the next day the opposite. Somewhere in the middle I suggest at the very least the signing gives us comedy relief. Those days may be over for me. I may be ready to start the Darko Bandwagon in Beantown.
There's a way Doc and the C's could make this Darko thing work and any number of ways they could make it likely to fail. One sure fire way to make it fail is to try and let Darko find his way on his own, stumble and bumble, get down on himself, force him to figure out how to pick himself back up, and then see how he deals with being neglected and jerked around.
I don't know much. But I do know this. If you want the Darko Experiment to fail, well, folks, that's your recipe. As I've said in more than one post, Darko needs to feel like he belongs. He wants to feel like part of the team. He doesn't need to be Wilt. He's pretty much said that. Or, if he once harbored longings to be Wilt, he's replaced those with more humble, realistic expectations that should be easy for Doc and company to meet.
We are approaching mission accomplished on the belonging front.
The next thing that would be nice to happen, and, I realize this is a lot to ask, and hence why I probably won't mention it again unless it actually happens, is this:
Like the above passage hints, Doc should find a way to consistently use the Dark One as his primary back-up to KG, at least through the end of 2012. Yeah, I know. Small ball this, fast break that. Darko is 7-1, 300 pounds. How does that work out exactly?
I don't know.
But if your name is Doc or Danny and you hold any private dreams that Darko will (1) contribute down the stretch of this season; (2) play well enough to merit an invite back next year; and (3) occasionally be a difference maker in big games, well, dammit, figure out a way to send Darko a signal, and the signal is, hey, Serbian Gangster, if you make your best effort to fit in and stay in shape and show signs of the Darko from 2010-11, then you've found yourself a home, at least for the foreseeable future.
That's how you scratch Darko's back.
And, quite frankly, I think the brass at Waltham already know this.
I wouldn't even be surprised if our old friend Kurt Rambis has had a conversation with Doc or Danny, cuz it was Mr. Rambis who first made Darko feel wanted.
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