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Darko on Jokic: Don’t mess up like I did

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A translated interview with Darko Milicic

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Former #2 overall pick, Darko Milicic has been in the news recently when it was revealed in Lee Jenkins’ phenomenal profile of Nikola Jokic, that Jokic’s older brother Nemanja was close friends with Darko in his early playing days in Detroit. Jenkins’ story talks about how Nemanja and Darko were young and unfocused with basketball and some of their immaturity led to Darko’s downfall in the NBA.

Alo.rs recently caught up with Darko and he had some really interesting comments about Nikola and about staying focused. A Denver Stiffs reader who goes by the name PecaBelgrade has provided a translation for this interview. Please note that this is a translation and there may be errors or omissions that can skew the intended meaning. The interview is below.

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Milicic’s advice Jokic Nikola: “Don’t (mess) up like I did!”

Former basketball player Darko Milicic, who won the title in 2004 with the Detroit Pistons, believes that Nikola Jokic can become the best Serbian basketball player who ever played in the NBA.

Jokic this season is almost single-handedly leading Denver Nuggets into the playoffs in Western Conference and after each game receives incredible praise from coaches, teammates and NBA legends. His games did not leave Darko Milicic indifferent, who is a longtime friend of the brothers Nemanja and Strahinja Jokic.

“I watch Johnny [sic] on television and in the newspapers when he does something great. I have never seen a player who is so good in all aspects of the game. I did not see him in person, but when I watch on TV… assists, vision, shot…It’s great what he’s doing. Knowing his two brother’s, who are very strong physically, I am convinced that Nichola has the strength to be an enforcer.”

Milicic - who played for Detroit, Orlando, Memphis, New York, Minnesota and Boston - admits that in his career he could have done much more. He does not foresee such a problem for Jokic and believes that the Serbian phenom has no limits.

“I do not wish on anyone to happen what happened to me. For Nikola, all came perfect, a great team, a good coach who expects a lot from him. At the moment I do not see Nicola’s limits, he could be the best Serbian basketball player who ever played in the NBA. Perhaps, but I say maybe, I’m concerned about the pace of games, as the NBA is challenging, it is not for (messing) around and you have to be a robot. There are 82 games, plus playoffs. It can be more than 100 games in a season. You need to endure,” said Milicic.

“I’m talking to my son that my behavior will get you nowhere. All my life I was correcting wrongs doings (it is hard to translate it is like saying in Serbian). Given the fact that I was a second pick in the draft, in my career I have achieved nothing. It was a situation and environment where I did not want to play, but also a situation where I wanted and I played well. Nikola is a smart guy, I believe that he will not (mess) it up and that he will play great.

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Few know that Nikola’s brother, Nemanja, lived in Milicic’s home in Detroit in 2004.

“Nikola’s brother, Nemanja and I go way back. I took him to America then. Another brother, Strahinja, is my godfather. I can only say the best about all three Jokic brothers. Nemanja was also a talented player but also had a bad temper. Strahinja is really a hard worker but he had a back injury for which he had to stop with basketball.”