Despite having one of the biggest busts in NBA history for its #2 selection, the 2003 NBA Draft could very well go down as one of the best ever. Even though Darko Milicic will have the Detroit Pistons forever wishing they would have passed on the unknown foreigner, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade have accomplished more than enough to elevate their class.
During Sunday night’s All-Star Game, they gave us a glimpse of what we’ll be seeing for years to come.
In the 59th NBA All-Star Game, the East All-Stars defeated the West All-Stars, 141-139. Since the game was covered by TNT, it wasn’t void of drama in its final moments.
With under 30 seconds left in the game, the score was tied at 135. Deron Williams’ had a mental lapse and fouled Dwayne Wade – when the game was tied at 137 with 12 seconds to go. Wade made both shots, giving the East a two point lead. The West countered with a set play to free up hometown favorite Dirk Nowitzki for a three-pointer. Dwight Howard popped out over the screen to contest Dirk and fouled him with 7.7 seconds to play in regulation. Nowitzki canned both free throws to once again tie the game, 139-139.
After a timeout, Chris Bosh took a handoff strong to the basket but was tripped up on the way. He went to the line with 5.0 seconds left to shoot free throws and Bosh capitalized, nailing both freebies. The West had one last chance, but Anthony was unable to connect on an off-balance triple.
The East All-Stars – led by James, Wade and Bosh – made a late push to secure a victory over the West All-Stars. James and Wade provided lots of highlight material…connecting on multiple alley-oops and converting numerous slam dunks.
It was Dwayne Wade walking away with the game’s MVP award – scoring 28 points, dishing out 11 assists, grabbing 6 boards and collecting 5 steals. He was one of three East All-Stars who could have legitimately carried home the honor, as LeBron James (25 pts, 6 ast, 4 stl) and Chris Bosh (23 pts, 10 rbs) also put up huge numbers in the victory.
Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony – the third pick in the 2003 draft – paced the West All-Stars with 27 points and 10 rebounds. The West trailed for the vast majority of the game before making a run at the close of the third quarter which extended into the start of the fourth quarter. Shortly afterward, the Eastern squad made a slight push to go up by a few possessions. But the West quickly countered to keep themselves in the game, and set themselves up for a shot at consecutive wins (the West won last the 2009 ASG, 146-119).
The game was held in the new Cowboy Stadium in front of over 108,000 fans – and Dallas Maverick Dirk Nowitzki made his presence felt by scoring 22 points including a few early basket to get the home crowd into the contest. The West also had notable performances from Chauncey Billups (5 triples), Kevin Durant (15 points) and Deron Williams (14 pts, 6 ast, 4 stl).