This is a story about busts, something Timberwolves fans are all too used to. This time, however, it’s a little different than typical Timberwolves bullshit pain. I’m not about to give any new information here. Most of the details surrounding this story went public a long, long time ago. However, I’m guessing I’m not the only one who lives under a rock or has never heard of any of this in the slightest. Also, I won’t sit here and pretend my sources are ”accurate” or whatever.Reddit, Facebook, and many European sites played a big role in my research. Regardless, a story involving international drug lords and the Minnesota Timberwolves belongs on the 10K Takes blog. Today we’re talking drug busts, not draft busts and championship or busts.
What I Found:
While scrolling Facebook the other day, I found a news article about Darko Saric. Reread that, DARKO Saric, not the homie Dario Saric. And no, not Darko Milicic, past Timberwolves center and one of the biggest busts of all time.People forget, Darko Milicic was taken 2nd overall behind LeBron James and before future HOFs Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, and Dwayne Wade rounded out the top 5. Also, that Darko allegedly told the Timberwolves to never trade for him because he’d purposely ruin the team. Naturally, they did it anyway, and he actually turned out to be a decent role piece.
Anyway, this Darko, Darko Saric, heads the Serbian Mafia as an international drug lord. Like Pablo Escobar, but for Eastern Europe.
I couldn’t find the story of the drug busts, but I imagine 11,400 pounds of cocaine doesn’t just slip through the cracks. Missing that load would be like missing Yao Ming suiting up at center for a 4th-grade girls basketball team.
Anyway, the article said the Serbian drug lord was thrown back in prison a few days ago to make sure he doesn’t flee the country during the appeal process.
A Serbian drug lord, 27 billion dollars, and 5.7 tons of cocaine? My interest sufficiently peaked, so I decided to give Darko a little google search. Murder trials, Peruvian ties, and Serbian mafia history filter in the search results. But still, nothing super exciting came up at first besides the few articles, a poorly translated Wikipedia page, and music streaming services. Until, I stumbled into one crazy coincidence.
Darko Saric has a best friend:Apparently, 5.7 tons of cocaine isn’t the only massive and super recognizable thing Darko Saric involves himself with. Saric’s best friend appears to be none other than Nikola Pekovic. The 6’11”, 300lb ex-Timberwolves‘ center, who even averaged 17 points and 9 boards one season, sits as one of the right hand men for the Serbian El Chapo.
According to other random blogs and posts, the $72 million dollar center’s owned cars detained with guns, drugs, and Saric’s men as well as started multiple business ventures with the mafia billionaire. Allegedly, Pekovic not only paid off millions in debt for Saric’s brother, but he’s also the godfather of the man’s child. I don’t know if it gets any closer than that.
Affect on the Timberwolves?
During the course of Pekovic’s tenure on the Wolves, they finished 15th, 15th, 12th, 12th, 10th, and 15th. Not exactly a contending resume to say the least. However, I’d argue the franchise can avoid blame on this one. Imagine a 19-year-old packing up his bags, moving to Minneapolis, and entering a locker-room with a Serbian mafia leader. Nothing creates pressure like that. “Hey Derek [Williams], shouldn’t of grabbed that last rebound man. Pek would’ve had a double-double if you left it alone. Maybe don’t do that again.”
I’m just kidding, Pek would never do something like that to a teammate. In all likelihood, he was probably a favorite between protecting his guys and making sure things other than ice ran through their veins. Regardless, a championship culture doesn’t happen when one player’s used to a different tactic of winning.
Of course there’s still two things we’ll probably never know…the legitimate role Pekovic plays in the Saric lead Serbian mafia as well as how someone tied to guns, drugs, and crime could only average 0.5 steals throughout his career. All in all, Nikola Pekovic remains a Timberwolves fan favorite and crazy good basketball player. This story definitely gives a new meaning to Where In The World Is Nikola Pekovic, though.
We were lucky to grow-up watching him bully opposing bigs as a lone bright spot on the early 2010 T-Wolves. Fortunately, the Timberwolves no longer have to focus on drug busts as they enter a season where the goal remains ”Championship or Bust.”
I’m just the ugly stepson of the 10K family. Part Minnesotan, Part Wisconsinite. Half best friend, half mortal enemy. Can’t live with me, can’t live without me.