Eighteen years after the Detriot Pistons elected to take Darko Milicic over Carmelo Anthony, who just led Syracuse to the National Championship. Yet, almost twenty years later, the basketball world is still asking what would happen if Detriot had taken Melo over Darko.
The next season, Darko won a championship with the Pistons, but Carmelo Anthony has had the better overall career. Larry Brown, who was at the helm of the Pistons in 2004 that won that championship. A couple of years ago, he revealed that he was under the impression that they were going to draft Anthony with the second pick in the 2003 draft.
“What I had understood, we were going to draft Carmelo and then all of a sudden they decided on Darko,” Brown said, per Syracuse.com.
“All I asked is why don’t you bring in Carmelo, or (Dwyane) Wade or (Chris) Bosh and let them workout against Darko?” Brown said. “Any smart agent is gonna say, ‘No, I’m not going to let my guy workout against somebody else.’”
Apparently, Brown’s alarm went off about Miličić before they took him with the second pick.
“We brought Darko in twice and he couldn’t go through a workout with me without getting totally exhausted,” Brown said.
Later this week, Carmelo Anthony will appear on the All The Smoke Podcast with Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes.
During his appearance, Anthony presented that question.
“I think if I was there, they win another one,” Anthony said on the “All The Smoke” podcast. “I’m wouldn’t jump out there and say we three-peat. I think we’d go back-to-back if I’m there. … They were all vets, I would have learned from those guys. And that second year coming back, I would have been a totally different player coming back.”
If you asked Anthony, he would tell you that that move by Detroit changed the course of his career.
“Changed the course of my career,” Anthony said. “I’m a tell you what man: To this day, I still think about that. … Because I’m like, they promised me, ‘We taking you, we taking you.’ I’m talking about all the way up to draft day.
“So in my mind, I’m going to Detroit.”
Anthony averaged 21.0 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game for the Nuggets during his rookie year. He would take his team to the playoff and finish second to LeBron James in the Rookie of the Year race that season. However, people to this day still think Anthony should have captured that award. After he averaged 22.2 points, 10 rebounds a game at Syracuse and captured All American honors, a national championship, and his number was retired.
Also, according to Anthony, Detriot was adamant the Pistons were taking him number two during his appearance on All The Smoke.
“They was like ‘Yo you gonna share time with Tayshaun.’ I’m like ‘Cool, I’m a come in and do my thing, but I don’t know how long I’m gonna share time with him,'” Anthony said with a slight chuckle. “… And then they won it. And I’m like ‘My luck.'”
Barnes and Jackson can be understood in accordance with Anthony’s opinion that Detroit had more titles in store with Anthony.
Barnes emphasizes Rip Hamilton said in an earlier episode that he thought Melo would be the choice, too.
“(I) drove from B-More to Philly, man, to go watch Detroit vs. Philly,” Anthony recalled on the podcast. “And Larry Brown had already taken the job at Detroit when he was still coaching Philly. So we’re in the back and he’s like ‘We taking you. We taking you.’ So I’m driving back up 95 like ‘We going to Detroit.'”
“Two or three,” Billups said. “I mean, I knew it wasn’t going to be long. You draft this guy, you’re bringing him in to play with Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace … you knew right away. I mean, this kid is young, 18, 19, but, man, he’s a long ways away, and we coulda got better.”
However, it was Ben Wallace that had his doubts of the Pistons‘ ceiling with Anthony, “
“If we would’ve drafted Carmelo, I honestly don’t think we would have ever won a championship,” Wallace said.
“Melo wanted to play right away. It would have had the potential to disrupt the team chemistry … By drafting Darko, he came in and said that he is not ready to play on this team. Who I am going to play in front of. I’m not ready, and by him doing that and accepting his role, it allowed us to build and grow and get stronger and eventually win a championship …
“If we drafted Carmelo, Tayshaun [Prince] wouldn’t blossom to be the type of a player that he way. We won that championship on the back of the best block I’ve ever seen in my life, and I blocked a lot of shots. That is the type of grit and grind that the team had.”
Per Anthony, that still sticks with him.
“That shit still sticks with me to this day,” Anthony said.