It’s funny how things turn out after NBA Draft day.
Undrafted players are signed and the predictions coupled with the hype swirl around the first round picks, namely those picked in the lottery. Who will win a championship ring first? Who will win rookie of the year? These are all questions that jump to the forefront of the mind when a fan attempts to figure out who will matter the most when their careers are over.
Who will be the first to deserve a bid into the basketball Hall of Fame?
Somewhere in the midst of all that, of all the propaganda, is what true impact the player will make on the league and what growth fans will see in that player from that draft day.
In the 2003 NBA Draft, the top five draft picks were as follows: No.1 LeBron James, No.2 Darko Milicic, No.3 Carmelo Anthony, No.4 Chris Bosh and No.5 Dwyane Wade. Of these five men, only four can boast having a championship under their belt while one is the cast out of the bunch still trying to find that niche that will land him a ring.
Darko Milicic won his ring first in 2004 with the Detroit Pistons, although his influence on the franchise was little to none. Riding the bench proved successful for him and at the end of the day he has as many rings as Mr. Big Shot, Chauncey Billups.
Dwyane Wade won his ring second in 2006 with the Miami Heat after a Finals matchup against the Dallas Mavericks. Wade won the Finals MVP trophy after logging 34.7 PTS per and is known as one of the best blocking guards in the league actively. He is the cornerstone of the Heat franchise and the epitome of the type of leadership that LeBron James needed to experience in order to achieve the greatest feat of his career after nine seasons in the NBA.
James won his first championship as the statistical leader of the Miami Heat and undoubtedly did everything he was supposed to on both ends of the court to attribute to their series victory in the Finals over the Oklahoma City Thunder. However, it was Wade’s leadership both professionally and personally that led to James’ maturation as a man and as a player on the court.
And Chris Bosh?
Bosh won his first ring right along with James’ first and Wade’s second. Bosh started off with the Toronto Raptors voicing the fact that he would not rotate over to the center position because that was not his true label. Somehow Bosh is about to spend an entire season as Miami’s center because it is what the franchise needs.
There is one more man in that draft that has not been mentioned and has yet to win a championship although he has been the most important player on both franchises that he has played for. The Denver Nuggets and the New York Knicks have been under Anthony’s thumb since his entrance in 2003 and his trade to New York in 2011.
In Denver, Anthony appeared complacent. He bounced onto the scene with so much hype, but he never really crossed that threshold to become all his potential boosted him to be. After “forcing” his way out of Denver and back home to the Big Apple, Anthony was supposed to immediately thrive.
However, he was given the benefit of the doubt when he and the Knicks were swept in the first round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs by the Boston Celtics. He, Chauncey Billups and Amare Stoudemire had not had an entire season together so it was understandable as to why he did not succeed immediately.
The Heat did not.
Coming into his second season, things were not much more grandiose. He was injured, immediately outshined by Asian sensation, Jeremy Lin, and then promptly questioned as to whether or not he even belonged back in New York in the first place.
After his big showing in the 2012 London Olympics, there is a renewed hope in Anthony’s ability to jump back into actual contention and conversation as one of the better players in the country. His talent definitely affords him the nomination, but Anthony’s lack of passion is what annoys most fans.
So many eyes have been on LeBron’s lack of a ring that everyone seemed to simply ignore the fact that Anthony has not even made a Finals appearance whereas James made two before he finally won.
Carmelo Anthony has not been on people’s radar, but by being the last of the great 2003 NBA Draft picks to be ring-less, there is a target for fans’ frustrations on his back.
Either he is going to grow and answer the call or he is going to remain comfortable reveling in what he already is opposed to what he is supposed to be.