In fact, as far as we can tell, life has never been easy for Darko Milicic. The Serbian's adolescence was spent amongst the ruins of the war-torn former Yugoslavia. He was taken second overall in the 2003 NBA draft, ahead of a couple dozen players that have had significantly better NBA careers, and became the league's biggest on-court punchline because of it.
He was possibly mistreated by Larry Brown, he broke his hand just as his Detroit Pistons were about to win the 2004 NBA title, he couldn't swing it in Michigan, Orlando, Memphis, or New York, and he's had all manner of embarrassing (and self-inflicted) miscues to mock along the way.
Needlessly handed a four-year deal with the Timberwolves last summer, he's probably been the worst rotation player in the NBA over the first two weeks of the season. And, to hear him tell it, his confidence has waned.
Because "Yao Ming is hurting" are the four words no NBA fan wants to hear, at this point, outside of "Isiah Thomas, new commissioner." And yet, as told to Rockets.com's Jason Friedman, Darko seems to be in on something regarding the Houston's center's health:
"He is a great player. He told me his foot is bothering him. It's kind of on the coach to figure out his minutes and how to play him to get the most out of him. They really need him as their main number one option."
Yes. What? Yes. Yes.
But the "what?" part?
Some of this could be lost in translation, considering we have up to three languages in question, here. The glass half-full approach allows us to think that Yao was talking, on-court, about how the whole process of taking over a year off and then 2010-11 as a sort of in-season rehab stint before coming back to playing huge minutes in 2011-12 is "bothering him." Or, his foot could be hurting two weeks into the season, and we're all screwed.
Either way -- thanks, Darko.
- Darko Milicic