The NBA Draft has been full of conspiracy theories since its very beginning. From David Stern rigging it to send Patrick Ewing to the New York Knicks, to the Bulls getting Derrick Rose or the Cavs getting multiple 1st overall picks and even the Pelicans getting Zion Williamson right after losing Anthony Davis.
But one of the biggest conspiracy theories that have loomed around for ages is the one from the 2003 NBA Draft. Everybody assumed LeBron James (out of Akron, Ohio) was going to be the first overall pick, so it was kind of curious when the Cleveland Cavaliers got the pick.
Still, if someone was about to challenge LeBron’s status as possible first overall pick that had to be Carmelo Anthony, who was killing it at Syracuse University and had been a national sensation for years as well. In fact, even he claimed on a pre-draft interview that he could be the 1st overall pick even despite the Cavs winning the lottery:
“I understand that the Cleveland Cavaliers got the number one pick, so I’m assuming that they’re gonna pick him but we will see on (Draft day) June 22,” Anthony said.
The Cavs were tied with the Denver Nuggets for the worst record in the league but still, Denver ended up with the 3rd pick, which made some people speculate about the transparency of the Draft lottery. Even Melo joked in that same interview by claiming he thought the lottery was rigged:
“I kinda knew that Cleveland was going to get the (number 1) pick, tho. I think they rigged it, nah, don’t quote me on that,” Anthony joked.
At the end of the day, James ended up going 1st overall to his hometown team, while Anthony slipped to third and took his talents to the Nuggets. Their careers took different paths and their resumes don’t exactly lookalike but there’s no doubt that once it’s all said and done, both will be immortalized in the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame.