DETROIT--Larry Brown may have left the Pistons bench, but he still has plenty of sleepless nights worrying about his old team. At the top of his list of concerns is the possibility that the new coach, whoever it is, will allow former first round pick Darko Milicic to play. Brown has already spoken with team president Joe Dumars and warned him against this catastrophic mistake.

“He can’t let Darko start. He just can’t,” Brown told reporters during a telephone interview yesterday. “In my entire tenure as Pistons coach, the thing I’m most proud of is benching Darko. It’s really worked out great for us. And it’s helped him, too. He has gotten some valuable learning experience sitting on the bench all that time. Still. he hasn’t gotten enough. I’d say he needs another—oh, I don’t know—ten, fifteen years of bench time before he’s ready to play. By the time I should be long retired, and hopefully dead.”

Brown said he’ll keep tabs on the team from afar just to make sure the unthinkable doesn’t occur.

“Oh I’ll be watching, whether it’s from Cleveland, New York, or my couch, I will be watching,” he said. “If that guy so much as gets out of his chair during the first three quarters of a game, I’ll be on the phone with Dumars demanding an explanation. I’m really adamant about this. If Darko Milicic becomes a starting NBA player my entire world will come crashing down on me.”

Brown did stress, however, that he has nothing personal against Milicic.

“You have to understand that it’s not a personal thing. I like Darko. He’s a nice kid. It’s just that I don’t want him to be a professional basketball player. I can’t even really explain it. You know how sometimes you hate certain types of food for no particular reason? Or you hate a certain song but you just can’t put your finger on why? That’s how I feel about Darko. He’s like a disgusting food item or a horrible, grating song. But again, it’s nothing personal.”

As part of his contract buyout, Brown asked the Pistons to guarantee that Milicic would remain benched for the duration of his tenure with the team. GM Joe Dumars rejected the request and said that it would be up to the new coach to determine Darko’s fate.

“Hey, it’s the coach’s job to decide who plays and who doesn’t,” said Dumars. “Larry can’t continue to control the team even after he quits. It’s unreasonable. I don’t know why he obsesses so much over Darko. The poor kid is just trying to contribute. It’s time for Larry to sit back, relax, and concentrate on his new job, which, if it has anything to do with the New York Knicks, is going to be hilarious.”

Dumars recalled the buyout negotiations with Brown and claimed that Milicic was first and foremost in the coach’s mind.

“Larry walked in the room, sat down at the conference table, looked me in the eye, and said ‘Joe, if I leave this job, just promise me one thing.’ So I’m thinking he’s going to tell me to keep the team together and manage it with honor and integrity or something. But instead he says ‘Don’t let Milicic play. Just don’t let him play. Sit him down forever.’ I just rolled my eyes and said ‘OK,’ but we didn’t put anything in the contract. So right now, the only thing standing between Darko and a full time NBA career is his ability.”

Several sources say that Brown may end up as the GM or president of a new team some time in the next year. If that happens, he has indicated that he may consider trading for Milicic and signing him to a lifetime contract in order to ensure that he never gets any playing time.

“That’s one option,” Brown admitted, “but it’s a last resort. I certainly wouldn’t want to trade for Darko, and I would hope that the new Pistons coach would be smart enough not to give Darko a chance to play. Still, if the situation calls for it I will pull the trigger. I didn’t get where I am today by being rational.”

As for Darko himself, he’s just happy to see Brown go.

“Oh thank God that man is gone,” he said. “I don’t know what he had against me, but for some reason he just didn’t want me to succeed. Now that he is gone I look forward to getting another opportunity with my new coach, whoever that may be. I just hope that he is a fair person and that he benches me not out of some personal grudge, but because I am incompetent.”


Brown Concerned That New Pistons Coach Might Let Darko Milicic Play
July 19th , 2005 - Volume 1 Issue 104