LeBron James’ Former Teammate Explains Why Carmelo Anthony Deserved to Win ROTY Over Him in 2003–04

Published 09/18/2021, 11:30 AM EDT
NEW YORK – JUNE 30: Jason Kidd, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James attend the U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team unveiling of their new team look to fans at the Water Club and Rockefeller Center on June 30, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)


The Los Angeles Lakers are one of the favorites to win it all this season. With their roster full of big names, these expectations are bound to come. However, one of the most anticipated pair up is of long-time friends, Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James.

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LeBron and Melo have been competing since being drafted in 2003. While the ‘King’ was the number 1 overall pick, Melo was selected number 3 by the Denver Nuggets. Both these stars enjoyed great rookie years. Likewise, they were the two finalists to win Rookie of the Year.

SHENZHEN, CHINA – OCTOBER 12: #23 Lebron James of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts during a preseason game as part of 2019 NBA Global Games China at Shenzhen Universiade Center on October 12, 2019 in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

However, in a controversial choice, LeBron James received the Rookie of the Year. Now, while on The Jump, Richard Jefferson revealed his pick between Carmelo Anthony and LeBron in the 2003 ROTY race.

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Jefferson sides with Melo over LeBron James

Richard Jefferson was on the show with guests, Kendrick Perkins and Brian Windhorst. They discussed Melo teaming up with his long-time friend LeBron on the Los Angeles Lakers and what we can expect from him. Another topic that came up was the ROTY race between them, and Jefferson believed Carmelo Anthony deserved to win.

He said, “As far as the Rookie of the Year thing, you’re right. I was on the Carmelo Anthony bandwagon. He took his team to the postseason in the western conference. Look, LeBron had all the numbers, 25 and 5, he was like Oscar Robertson. Him and Michael Jordan were the only rookies to ever average that. But there is no doubt about Carmelo’s competitiveness and where he believes he is.”

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While LeBron definitely had the numbers and records over Melo, he put up impressive numbers as well. He averaged 21 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 2.8 assists in his rookie year. The one major up he had over James was that Melo led the Nuggets to the playoffs in his first season.

Mar 3, 2021; Portland, Oregon, USA;Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) speaks with forward Carmelo Anthony (00) during the second half of the game against the Golden State Warriors at Moda Center. The Blazers won 108-106. Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

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However, he did not have a memorable first playoff run. Carmelo only averaged 15 points and 8 rebounds while shooting just 32% from the field. But leading his team in his rookie year was the main factor. It is evident that Melo has let that go and is now focused on winning with LeBron James.

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Do you think Melo can finally win a championship this season? Let us know in the comments below.

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Anuj Talwalkar

396 articles

Anuj Talwalkar is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. He is a student studying at NM College in Mumbai, aspiring to pursue sports management to follow his love for sports. Anuj started following the NBA last year, and he loves to combine his passion for writing with his understanding of basketball.

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