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MILICIC ANXIOUS TO PLAY FOR KNICKS SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Darko Milicic came to the United States as a wide-eyed 17-year-old who knew nothing about the country and nothing about the NBA.

"I just came here as a young guy who wanted to play Basketball," he said.

But during Milicic's first few seasons, that hardly happened. The lack of playing time early in his career never has been easy to swallow for the second pick of the 2003 NBA draft.

Now in his seventh season overall and first with the Knicks , Milicic is best known as the 7-foot Serbian the Pistons selected ahead of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade.

But Milicic said he's done trying to change perceptions that he's one of the biggest draft busts of all time.

"I'm just ready to help this team any way that I can," Milicic said. "Defense, whatever. It doesn't matter. I just want us to become a winning team, a good team in this league. I'm not worried about showing people I can score points. I'm mature enough.

"Who knows? I might just not be good enough for the second pick."

With the Knicks , who acquired Milicic this past summer in a trade with the Grizzlies, Milicic may finally have found good fit. They're looking to improve an interior defense that a season ago blocked fewer shots than any team in the league.

"We think we've got him at a good spot, and we think that he's intriguing at least," Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said.

Milicic, meanwhile, is just hoping to reach a comfort zone. He was barely used in his time with the Pistons and Magic, starting just 19 games over four seasons. Then he played the past two seasons for terrible Grizzlies teams.

Throughout he was stung by criticism that he never lived up to his billing as the second overall pick.

"I didn't push anybody to take me the second pick," he said.

"Three years not playing, any player in the world is going to become a different player than they're supposed to be. You get frustrated. In your mind, you think, 'What am I doing here?' I came to the U.S. to play Basketball."

Now, Milicic's enjoying life off the Basketball court, too. He and his wife, whom he married this past summer, have a 3-month-old son. His family is staying with him in New York, a city he's already come to love.

"Who doesn't like New York?" he said. "It's the best city. The best.

"When you're in New York, you feel like you're home."

Pete Iorizzo can be reached at 454-5425 or by e-mail at

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: October 3, 2009


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