Mighty Mighty

This interview, especially in light of Larry Brown's recent Darko-slamming (see the second to the last question) is incredible. Jacked completely from Maxim.

Rookie Monsters

Keep your King! Darko Milicic and Carmelo Anthony will change the future of the NBA.

Maxim, November 2003

Interviews by Tim Struby

We don’t care what the league PR flacks say: The NBA is in trouble. Television ratings are sagging lower than David Stern’s man-titties. Kobe’s an eyewitness away from entering Sing Sing’s three-point salad-tossin’ competition. And every May a different Eastern Conference stooge rolls over like the Washington Generals.

But there is hope! And his name is not LeBron “King” James. As good as the $90 million man-child might be, he can’t breathe life into this apathetic league of teenage one-on-one machines by himself. First off, he’s a high school drop-in. And of the 22 prom babies drafted into the NBA, only Kobe has a ring; Jonathan Bender and Bill Willoughby are the only others who’ve even seen the NBA Finals.

But while James is all potential, the guys picked right behind him this year are proven studs. Like that famous Magic-Bird rivalry the league pulled out of its hat to escape the cocaine-snorting, arena-emptying depression of the late ’70s, Darko Milicic and Carmelo Anthony are poised to reinvent the NBA.

Darko, taken second overall by the Detroit Pistons, is the highest European draft pick in NBA history. Just 18 and already dominant internationally, the seven-foot, left-handed Serbian has three-point range and a nasty disposition. Motown fans will soon know him as Bill Laimbeer with a post-up game.

If mature skills and killer instinct make Darko a lock, then Carmelo’s a reinforced steel door. The 19-year-old Most Valuable Player of the 2003 NCAA Final Four can shoot, handle, pass, defend, and talk nastier trash than a trailer-park picnic.

Both were raised in tough circumstances: Darko amid one of the most brutal civil wars in modern history; Carmelo on the drug-ridden Baltimore streets that inspired HBO’s The Wire. And while each is quick to say that they’re not rivals, we didn’t hook up with these guys to hear a load of lovey-dovey crap.

It’s elbow-throwing time, boys!

What’s the first thing you did after being drafted?
Carmelo: I hugged my mother.
Darko: I kissed my father.
Edge: Carmelo

And after that?
Carmelo: I shook Commissioner David Stern’s hand and realized that he’s a heck of a lot shorter than he looks on TV.
Darko: I went straight out and partied all night…until the sun came up.
Edge: Darko

What’s the funniest thing a groupie has ever done to get your attention?
Darko: A friend was driving me around back home recently, and a crowd started to gather. Then this one girl, a real beautiful blonde, jumped on the car while it was still moving.
Carmelo: Man, most of the groupies at Syracuse were guys who painted their faces orange and white! But there was this one time a girl flashed me in class…and I was so focused on the lecture I didn’t even pay much attention to her.
Edge: Darko, by a Serbian mile

You’ll both lose more games this season than you have in your entire lives. How are you going to handle that?
Carmelo: Playing for the Denver Nuggets is just the beginning of a long process. As long as I keep improving as a player and we keep improving as a team, winning will follow.
Darko: Lose? That will not happen!
Edge: Darko

What kind of success do you predict for your teams this season?
Darko: We’ve got a good team in Detroit. I think we could make it far into the playoffs.
Carmelo: I predict we’ll get new jerseys. Nice light blue jerseys that bring out my eyes.
Edge: Even

And three years from now?
Carmelo: In three years we’re going to be one of the best and most exciting young teams in the NBA.
Darko: I don’t care about being exciting. In three years I want that big ring on my finger.
Edge: Darko

Slow down, big man. Before you can think about a championship, you’re gonna need a nickname. Every NBA stud has one…Big Dog, the Answer, Shaq Diesel. What’s yours?
Darko: Surda. He’s a Yugoslavian movie character, and everyone thinks I look like him.
Carmelo: People call me Melo.
Edge: Sometimes there are no losers…this is the opposite of that.

Surda and Melo, if you could endorse any product (which means getting it for free), what would it be?
Carmelo: A Maxim endorsement would be nice, ’cause I could finally get into the Maxim parties. But a hot car would be cool, too.
Darko: I don’t even have a driver’s license. So I’ll say Apple computers. I love that tech stuff.
Edge: Carmelo leaves him in the dust.

If you were forced to, how would you guard yourself on the court?
Darko: No idea. I’ve been working out, and I’m up to about 260 pounds, so I know it would be very difficult.
Carmelo: Guard me? I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you!
Edge: Carmelo

What player would you most like to slam one down on this year?
Carmelo: Anybody! I’m ready to go.
Darko: Zoran Planinic of the New Jersey Nets. He’s a friend of mine. And if you can’t dunk on your friends, who can you dunk on?
Edge: Darko

Would you rather win the slam-dunk or three-point contest?
Carmelo: Definitely the three-point contest. If you can shoot, everything else gets easier.
Darko: Slam-dunk. It’s more exciting. In Yugoslavia, basketball is only business. You lose a game and your teammates don’t speak to you for two days. Here the competitiveness is much more laid-back. Much more fun.
Edge: Darko

Apart from breakin’ ankles, what part of your game needs the most work?
Darko: Definitely defense.
Carmelo: Three-point shooting. That and magazine interviews.
Edge: Carmelo

Maybe you’re not preparing properly. How do you get ready for a game?
Carmelo: Actually, the first thing I do is flip through the pages of Maxim.
Darko: Sleep.
Edge: The brown-noser

Who’s your favorite NBA legend?
Darko: Definitely Magic Johnson, because he was so unselfish. He was a guard and I’m a power forward, so I’ll play more like Tim Duncan. But it’s Magic’s style I like.
<strong>Carmelo: MJ. You’d be a fool not to say him.
Edge: Even

Darko, you gonna take that? Each of you versus LeBron James: Who wins?
Darko: No idea. We’d have to play first.
Carmelo: Me!
Edge: Carmelo

Who’s going to win the 2003–04 Rookie of the Year award?
Carmelo: I think I can win it. And I’m sure every other first-rounder thinks he can win it. If you don’t have confidence, you’re going to have a tough time making it in this league.
Darko: I’m gonna try. I’m hoping to average 13 points, four assists, and eight rebounds a game. That’s my goal.
Edge: Even

OK, enough of this politically correct crap! Would you rather be a superstar on a losing team or the sixth man on a winning team?
Carmelo: Superstar.
Darko: Definitely sixth man on a winner.
Edge: The honest guy

If you had a choice between a month on a tropical island with a smokin’-hot movie star—we’re thinking of Beyoncé Knowles—or have Shaq on your team, which would you choose?
Carmelo: Shaq. [laughs] You’re definitely gonna win with Shaq. Girls…they’re gonna come anyway.
Darko: I’ll take the movie star!
Edge: Attaboy, Darko!

Deadlocked at 7-7! What say we settle this like filthy rich rookies—in a $160 million arena on March 6 (the Nuggets and Pistons first meeting of 2004). First guy to pants Ben Wallace wins!


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