Insider Reveals Some NBA Executives Wanted Carmelo Anthony to be No.1 Draft Pick Over LeBron James

Published 03/19/2021, 6:30 AM EDT
Mar 7, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Team LeBron forward LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers (23) is introduced before the 2021 NBA All-Star Game at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports


There is a reason why fans label LeBron James as ‘The Chosen One’. James was always touted as someone who was going to become the face of the NBA after Michael Jordan. In fact, even before he entered the NBA, he was a national superstar in high school. He got picked first overall in the NBA by his home team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, for whom he went on to bring their first NBA Championship.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

But there is something that not many people know about the 2003 NBA Draft. Was LeBron James always the most obvious choice as the first overall pick? Or was somebody else close to taking that spot?

Carmelo Anthony over LeBron James?

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Opposed to LeBron James, Melo was the third overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft out of Syracuse. Being one of the purest scorers the league has ever seen, Melo hasn’t had the smoothest of careers but has established a big name for himself. In fact, there is a possibility that Carmelo Anthony would have been the first overall pick, downing Bron.

On ‘The Dream Team Podcast,’ Jack McCallum revealed what sports columnist J.A. Adande told him about the draft pick choice at the time.

“There was some debate,” said Adande. “I remember speaking to at least one, probably even two NBA executives, who would have taken Carmelo Anthony if they had the No.1 pick.”

Jan 28, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Portland Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony (00) dribbles the ball as Houston Rockets forward Danuel House Jr. (4) defends during the second quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The thought behind the debate

He even explained the reason behind that and said, “The thought behind that was, we had seen Carmelo succeed at the highest level available to him, which was the NCAA tournament. Remember one year at Syracuse… He leads Syracuse and Jim Boeheim to his first national championship. Despite all the great teams Boeheim had, he never had a national championship.

“Carmelo was somewhat of a made man because of that. So, there was some thought that LeBron, as great as he is, playing against high school guys, we don’t necessarily know what he can do if you asked him to step up another level. We’d seen Carmelo succeed at the highest level available to him.”

It seems like the original choice was best suited. If it wasn’t for the Portland Trail Blazers showing faith in Melo, he would have not been able to revive his career. And then there is Bron, who is still playing like he is at the peak of his career.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

LOS ANGELES – JULY 27: LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony chat while waiting to check into the game during Magic Johnson’s18th annual “A Midsummer Night’s Magic” charity game at Staples Center on July 27, 2003 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Even at 36-years-old, he is adding championships under his name. But one can’t help and wonder how it would have been if Melo was indeed the first overall pick over LeBron…

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Read Also- Carmelo Anthony Reveals What Made Him Pass on the Opportunity to Play Beside LeBron James and Dwyane Wade

SHARE THIS ARTICLE :

Yashima Bhatia

1122 articles

Yashima Bhatia is an NBA writer for EssentiallySports who specialises in providing nuanced predictions and updates for matches. She has a Bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communication. Yashima's love for playing the game came up at a young age, when the excitement of the games coupled with the intensity of the Playoffs had her hooked.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT