NBA.com takes a look back at the top moments that define the history of the NBA.
There are a handful of NBA Drafts — the 1970 class that delivered six Hall of Famers, the Michael Jordan-headlined ’84 class, Karl Malone’s and Patrick Ewing’s ’85 class and the ’96 class many consider to be the deepest of all-time — that could lay claim to being the greatest. In 2003, another group added themselves to that list.
While LeBron James dominated the headlines on his way to being selected No. 1 overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers, Carmelo Anthony (No. 3), Chris Bosh (4) and Dwyane Wade (5) rounded out the top five of what might be the consensus No.1 Draft class.
With eight All-Stars, four Olympic Gold Medalists, two NBA Finals MVPs and a four-time league MVP among their ranks, the ’03 class has a resume that’s hard to top.
James, Anthony, Bosh and Wade have all played a major role in shaping the NBA landscape over the last decade. Chris Kaman, David West, Josh Howard and Mo Williams have combined for five All-Star appearances. Boris Diaw, the 21st pick, is a former Most Improved Player winner while other late-selected players like Jason Kapono, Zaza Pachulia, Steve Blake, Matt Bonner, Keith Bogans, James Jones and Kyle Korver all carved out solid careers in the league.
Wade would team up with Shaquille O’Neal to bring the Miami Heat their first title in 2006. Anthony became the face of the Denver Nuggets and led them to the 2009 West finals, their first since 1985, before being traded to the New York Knicks in 2010 and leading them to their first playoff appearance in seven years. Bosh led the Toronto Raptors to their first Atlantic Division championship. During his first stint with Cleveland (2003-10), James established himself as the best player in the league, won two MVPs and took the franchise to its first Finals in 2007.
In the now infamous free-agency bonanza of 2010, James and Bosh decided to team up with Wade in Miami to form a new “Big Three” set to rival any before it. The trio won their first championship in 2012 while James collected the trifecta of individual accolades — MVP, Finals MVP and an Olympic gold medal. The Big Three repeated as NBA Champions in 2013 with James once again earning both league MVP and Finals MVP.
And it all started on June 26, 2003. The NBA has never been the same since.