When you factor in his playing and front office career, it is arguable that Joe Dumars is one of the most important Detroit Pistons of all time.
He was a part of three titles, two as a player and one as a GM, a tenure that brought the most sustained success in team history.
Joe Dumars was a bridge to three eras of successful basketball in Detroit and has since continued to contribute to the league as part of the NBA front office, most recently being named Executive Vice President and Head of Basketball Operations for the league.
Unfortunately, if you ask some Pistons’ fans to talk about Joe Dumars, they will inevitably reference his “failure” in the front office, as he did hire some dud coaches and make some poor free-agent signings in the latter part of his time with Detroit.
But his biggest mistake came in the NBA Draft, and Joe Dumars knows it better than anyone.
Detroit Pistons: Joe Dumars and Darko Milicic
As much as he has accomplished in the league as both a player and executive, Joe Dumars will also forever be known as the guy who drafted Darko Millicic second in a draft that also featured Carmelo Anthony, Dywane Wade and Chris Bosh.
The Detroit Pistons won a title the next season anyway, but it’s fair to wonder if they could have won more had they just taken one of the three Hall-of-Famers that were drafted directly after Darko.
Personally, I am over it, as draft mistakes happen and there were other teams that would have done the exact same thing, as Darko was being billed as the next Dirk Nowitzki, the big man that was going to usher in a new era of basketball for 7-footers in the NBA.
He didn’t, but I have long forgiven Joe Dumars for this error, but it looks like it is something he still thinks about.
In a recent episode of the Crossover podcast with Chris Mannix and Howard Beck, Joe Dumars talked about a wide range of topics, including how the Detroit Pistons were this close to landing Kobe Bryant.
He also talked about his biggest mistake, drafting Darko:
"“…Like I would literally raise my hand, like, yeah, that’s on me. I think you own it…we had tremendous success, but we had some misses too. I own all of them. For me, I think in a leadership position, that’s what you do.Yes, it’s a miss. It’s a flat-out miss. It is the move that I want back the most. I own all of it…”"
Sounds like fans aren’t the only ones left wondering what might have happened if the Pistons had taken Carmelo Anthony instead of Darko Milicic.
All teams miss in the draft, that is just a fact, but this happened to be one of the more high-profile misses in NBA history, just behind the Trail Blazers passing on Kevin Durant AND Michael Jordan.
But Dumars owns it, and there are far more important things on his NBA resume than one botched draft pick.