It was June 26, 2003. The NBA hasn’t been the same since. The 2003 NBA draft rivals not just the best of the 2000s, but also the best in the history of the NBA.
The 1970 draft produced six members of the Basketball Hall of Fame. The 1985 draft will best be remembered for its No. 3 pick – Michael Jordan. Patrick Ewing and Karl Malone highlighted the 1985 draft and the 1996 class might be the deepest ever in NBA history.
The overall first pick in 2003 was LeBron James, just the second high school player to be taken at No. 1. Carmelo Anthony was selected by Denver at No. 3. Toronto took Chris Bosh at No. 4 and Dwyane Wade went to Miami at No. 5.
The only top-5 pick that did not work out was Darko Milicic who went to the Detroit Pistons at No. 2. Milicic played just 96 games for Detroit and averaged a measly 1.6 points per game. The 7-footer would go on to play 11 seasons in the league and finished with career averages of 6.0 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.
James, Wade, and Bosh would go on to play together in Miami where they would win back-to-back NBA titles in 2012 and 2013. In 2012, James pulled off one of the more impressive individual feats in the history of basketball. He was named the league MVP, the NBA Finals MVP, and went on to lead Team USA to a gold medal at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.
The 2003 class provided multiple All-Stars, four Olympic gold medalists, two NBA Finals MVPs, and of course James and his four league MVPs. Reaching further into the 2003 draft class, Josh Howard, Chris Kaman, David West, and Mo Williams accounted for five All-Star appearances.
Boris Diaw won an NBA Most Improved Player Award and the likes of Zaza Pachulia, Keith Bogans, James Jones, and Kyle Korver all had solid NBA careers.
James, Anthony, and Wade are all locks for the Hall of Fame someday and Bosh with his career averages of 19.7 points and 8.5 rebounds is right on the cusp.