Saturday, January 21, 2006

You can't keep a good man down. That is the lesson that Flip Saunders and Larry Brown are only now starting to learn with respect to Darko Milicic.

On Monday of this past week, Darko had to sit through yet another undeserved benching in the Pistons' 94-84 victory over the Celtics. He only got three minutes on the court in Atlanta on Wednesday in the 117-89 blowout victory over the Hawks, and was the only player on the roster to not receive extended minutes. However, Darko shrugged off the insult and managed to contribute a bucket and a board.

It wasn't until Thursday night in the Big Apple that Darko really got a chance to show his stuff. As usual, Flip waited until garbage time to put our man into the game. Flip loves to hold Darko to a couple of minutes at a time in order to prevent him from ever establishing a rhythm; he can then point to Darko's supposedly poor play and use that as an excuse for not playing him in the next game. This is a modus operandi that Mr. Saunders picked up from his predecessor, Mr. Brown. For whatever reason, these guys believe that the only good Darko is a beaten-down Darko.

What Flippy and Larry weren't anticipating was DM's resolve to thwart their plans and clear his good name. With six minutes to go, Darko roared off the bench and ran roughshod over the Knicks. He went 3 for 3, grabbed two offensive boards, one defensive, and he also threw in an assist for good measure. The final score was 105 to 79.

After the game, Brownie said "It was like the JV and the varsity," and continued on to say "They're at a whole different level than we are right now." Old Larry wasn't man enough to come out and say it in plain English, but what these comments represented was a begrudged acknowledgement that Darko handed his butt to him. No need to speak in code, Lar... we all saw the Serbian Gangster's superior performance.

Darko has both the talent and the willpower to get things on track in spite of his coach, and he has already begun to turn the corner. Watching him continue to persevere in the face of immense adversity is going to be a real treat, and DarkoRules plans to be there every step of the way.


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