Friday marks the anniversary of two of the greatest draft classes in NBA history, so it’s only right to debate which class is superior.
The 1996 NBA draft class is headlined by Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Stephon Marbury, Steve Nash and Marcus Camby. LeBron James starred in the 2003 group that included Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh.
The ‘96 class was a cultural game-changer. Iverson, Bryant, and Marbury ushered in a new era of flash to the game that has been adopted by many of today’s players.
On the court, the class combined to win four MVPs (Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Allen Iverson) and earned 57 All-Star appearances and 37 All-NBA selections. 1996 draftees Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Ray Allen, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Jermaine O’Neal Peja Stojakovic and Antoine Walker also became All-Stars. Undrafted Ben Wallace even turned into an All-Star and four-time Defensive Player of the Year, but we’re only counting the drafted players in the stats.
The 2003 class gets bonus points for living up to immeasurable hype. James was called “The Chosen One” before graduating high school, Anthony had led Syracuse to an NCAA championship and Dwyane Wade led a Marquette squad to the Final Four after beating top-seeded Kentucky.
James, Anthony, Wade and Bosh became four of the top five picks. The class won a combined 26 NBA championships. Other 2003 headliners include David West, Boris Diaw, Chris Kaman, Leandro Barbosa and Kyle Korver. Along with its championship pedigree, the group combined for 56 All-Star appearances.
Stacking the classes side-by-side, it’s splitting hairs when determining the best. The 2003 class has the edge in championships (26-19). The 1996 class has the edge (36-30) in All-NBA selections. The 1996 class also has a slight advantage in All-Star appearances (57-56). It’s important to note that James is active, and still one of the best players in the league.
Both drafts moved the needle and changed the league. The 1996 class had more star-power overall. The 2003 class’ achievements mainly come from Bosh, Wade, Anthony and James.
While the 2003 class had a big gap in championships, you can’t forget Wade, Bosh and James won six of those titles together with the Heat, but the same could be said for Bryant and Derek Fisher winning 10 of 19 rings together as Lakers.
It’s a tough call, but I’m giving the edge to the 1996 class. Half of the 20 top picks in that draft became all-stars. That’s more than the 2003 class had total (9).
Darius Leonard has become one of the brightest young linebackers in the NFL, but that doesn’t protect you from being racially profiled.
Leonard shared an experience he had in Florence, S.C. at a Chipotle with friends. Leonard and his family and friends, who he described as “four Black guys and a mixed woman,” were dining at the restaurant when a white customer said they were being verbally abusive. A manager at Chipotle then ordered them to leave.
Leonard said the allegation wasn’t true, and the manager made them leave after threatening to call the police.
“That’s what being Black in America is right now,” Leonard said in an Instagram video. “Us not even doing anything wrong, going out to eat with your family, just trying to spend a little bit of quality time. You can’t even enjoy eating anymore.”