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2002-03 NBA Scoring Leaders: Tracy McGrady Won The Scoring Title Against Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson And Shaquille O'Neal

2002-03 NBA Scoring Leaders: Tracy McGrady Won The Scoring Title Against Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson And Shaquille O'Neal

The 57th season in the NBA featured a lot of highs and lows. It was Michael Jordan’s final season in the league for good. It was also the first time since the 1999-2000 season that the Lakers did not appear in the NBA Finals. By the end of the season, the San Antonio Spurs and Gregg Popovich would begin what is a historic run by the franchise.

With Jordan 39 years old, he wasn’t going to add to his 10 scoring titles. The league featured new and old faces in the scoring race. One of those was Jordan’s protegee in Kobe Bryant. With that said, not even Bryant could claim the scoring title as one player would beat him out in the end.

These were the top-10 scorers from the 2002-2003 season.

10. Ray Allen - 22.5 PPG

Ray Allen

Allen split his time with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Seattle SuperSonics. Allen began in Milwaukee and then was traded to the Sonics with Ronald Murray, his former UConn teammate Kevin Ollie, and a conditional first-round draft pick in exchange for Gary Payton and Desmond Mason.

Allen spent the first 47 games with the Bucks, where he averaged 21.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.2 steals. He shot 39.5% from the three-point range. When he was dealt with Seattle, he averaged 24.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, 5.9 assists, and 1.6 steals, while shooting 35.1% from three-point range.

9. Kevin Garnett - 23.0 PPG

Kevin Garnett

By this season, Garnett was a household name in the NBA. He was leading the Minnesota Timberwolves to the playoffs and having sensational stat lines to go with it. This season was the best of his career up to this point. He averaged 23.0 points, 13.4 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.6 blocks.

This performance landed him on the All-NBA First Team for the second straight year and second place in the MVP voting. The Timberwolves posted a 51-31 record but were knocked out of the playoffs for the seventh straight year. This time, the team lost to the Lakers.

8. Chris Webber - 23.0 PPG

LOS ANGELES - JANUUARY 17:  Chris Webber #4 of the Sacramento Kings reacts during the game against the Los Angeles Clippers on January 17, 2005 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The Kings defeated the Clippers 89-83.  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 Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

Webber averaged 23.0 points and 11.0 rebounds per game and was cited as a possible MVP candidate. He made his fifth straight All-Star Game but missed it due to a sprained ankle. With that said, Webber returned to the Kings, who were favorites to win the NBA championship.

In the second round of the Western Conference Semifinals, Webber suffered a career-threatening knee injury. Webber was running down the lane untouched when it happened. This injury shattered their chances of winning an NBA championship, and the Mavericks won the series in seven games.

7. Tim Duncan - 23.3 PPG

Tim Duncan

Duncan’s first game of the season saw him produce 22 points, 15 rebounds, and three blocks in a win against the Raptors and that was a sign of what was to come. Duncan averaged 23.3 points, 12.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 2.9 blocks and earned All-NBA First Team and All-Defensive First Team honors. He also earned his second straight MVP Award.

At 37 years old, David Robinson announced that this would be his last season, so his playing time was cut to save his energy for the playoffs. TheSpurs won the No. 1 seed with a 60-22 record. Duncan dominated in the playoffs, which saw him win Finals MVP as the Spurs won the NBA championship.

6. Dirk Nowitzki - 25.1 PPG

Dirk Nowitzki

Before the season began, head coach Don Nelson and owner Mark Cuban wanted the team to shore up their defense. While the defense improved, Nowitzki took care of the offense. Nowitzki lifted his average again, averaging 25.1 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 3.0 assists. He led the Mavericks to a franchise record in wins with a 60-22 record. This resulted in the team winning the No. 3 seed.

Nowitzki’s success carried over into the playoffs, where they defeated the Trail Blazers in seven games. Then, the team played the Kings, where he delivered another clutch performance in Game 7, scoring 30 points, adding 19 rebounds, and playing strong defense to make the Western Conference Finals. In the end, Nowitzki injured his knee in Game 3 and the Spurs rolled the Mavericks after that.

5. Paul Pierce - 25.9 PPG

Paul Pierce

In the offseason, the Celtics acquired Vin Baker and Shammond Williams, as well as signed J.R. Bremer. The Celtics got off to a 16-7 start. At midseason, the team flipped Williams to reacquire former Celtics center, Mark Blount. However, the team finished third in the Atlantic Division with a 44-38 record.

The Celtics made the playoffs for the second time with team captain, Pierce, leading them. Pierce averaged 25.9 points, 7.3 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 1.8 assists. He was named to the All-NBA Third Team. Teammate Antoine Walker joined Pierce at the All-Star Game.

4. Shaquille O’Neal - 27.5 PPG

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To start the season, Shaq missed the first 12 games of the season as he recovered from toe surgery. Shaq had hallux rigidus, degenerative arthritis in his toe. He wanted the entire summer and elected to get surgery just days before training camp. At the time, Shaq believed that because it got hurt on company time, he should let it heal on company time.

Shaq could have received a more invasive surgery that would have sidelined him for three months, but he chose a procedure that kept him out for less time. The Lakers started the season 11-19 and ended the year with the No. 5 seed. The team failed to make the NBA Finals of the season, the Lakers had fallen to the fifth seed and failed to reach the Finals in 2003 after making it three straight years.

3. Allen Iverson - 27.6 PPG

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The 76ers had a poor start to the season. The team dealt defensive standout Dikembe Mutombo and saw a decrease in production from Aaron McKie and Eric Snow. All three were component pieces when the team made the NBA Finals in 2001. Iverson would put up a stellar offensive season despite all the adversity

With Iverson leading the way, the 76ers managed to get past the poor start and make the playoffs. The team finished 48-34 and beat Baron Davis and the New Orleans Hornets in the first round. Iverson talks about Davis being one of the most difficult players he guarded. The team was ultimately eliminated by the Pistons in six games in the second round and head coach Lary Brown left the team.

2. Kobe Bryant - 30.0 PPG

Kobe Bryant 2003 No. 8

In the first game of the season, Bryant recorded 27 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, and four steals in an 87-82 loss to the Spurs. Just a few days later, Bryant recorded a triple-double of 33 points, 15 rebounds, and 12 assists against the Clippers. Later in the season, he also set an NBA record for three-pointers in a game when he made 12 against the SuperSonics.

Bryant embarked on a historic run, posting 40 or more points in nine consecutive games while averaging 40.6 points per game for the entire month of February. He also averaged 6.9 rebounds, 5.9 assists, and 2.2 steals. Bryant finished third in the MVP voting as the Lakers finished 50-32.

1. Tracy McGrady - 32.1 PPG

Despite one of the greatest shooting months we had ever seen from Bryant, McGrady held and won the scoring title. McGrady averaged 32.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 5.5 assists for the year. He finished a career-high four in the MVP voting. A lot of critics have called this one of the greatest perimeter seasons we have ever seen.

McGrady helped Orlando make the playoffs, where he scored a team playoff record 43 points in the first game against the top-ranked Pistons. The Magic even held a 3-1 series lead, but McGrady foolishly guaranteed the team would make the second round of the playoffs. The Pistons roared back to take the Magic in seven games. 


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