Middleton: Product of a different era

When Darryl Middleton was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks, the NBA was ruled over by the likes of Larry, Magic and MJ, Sir Charles and Hakeem the Dream. Rookie of the year was Mark Jackson and the Detroit Pistons were ascending into dominance. Andrew Bynum was about nine months old; Blake Griffin and Brandon Jennings weren’t even born. Hell, Svetislav Pešić was coaching a youth team which included Toni Kukoc, Vlade Divac, Dino Radja and Saša Đorđević.

Yet the 44-year-old plays on … yesterday, Power Electronics Valencia announced the signing of Middleton to a two-month contract, enough to let him finish out the season with the Euroleague club and extend his ACB record for “oldest player to appear in a league game.” Middleton will certainly threaten, if not break, the Euroleague record for same when Valencia goes to Real Madrid next Tuesday night in the playoff round; Valencia plays at Fuenlabrada on Saturday.

Turning 45 in July, BallinEurope would also guess Middleton to be the single oldest player in a top-level basketball league in the world today … if anyone knows of some more elderly than this European mainstay, please inform.

In his 23rd season of professional ball, Middleton has been with Spanish second-division club Girona, where in 27 games, the forward has been good for 8.3 points and 4.5 rebounds in 24.4 minutes per. Middleton actually played for current Valencia coach Pešić on that club in the 2006-07 season.

Valencia decided to employ Middleton due to the recent injuries to Victor Claver and James Augustine leaving a big hole on the roster.

Middleton played four years with Baylor University through 1987-88 when he was drafted in the third round by the Atlanta Hawks. Since then, Middleton has led a true traveler’s life in European ball, playing with FC Barcelona, Joventut Badalona, Panathinaikos and Dynamo St. Petersburg, among others. He’s bagged ACB MVP honors on three occasions and has been with teams winning six domestic league titles, one Eurocup championship and one Euroleague championship (with PAO, in 2002).

All BiE knows is that he thankful there’s still a pro baller who remembers the 1980s; when Middleton finally hangs up the shoes, BiE will be peerless in the hoops world…

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