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Comparing Jordan’s 1984 Draft with James’ 2003 Draft

The 1984 NBA Draft is widely considered the best class to ever enter the league.

Within the first 5 picks you’ll find three players that have been inducted into the Hall of Fame: Hakeem Olajuwon (picked first overall), Michael Jordan (third overall) and Charles Barkley (fifth overall). If you look a little further down the list you’ll see another Hall of Fame player, John Stockton, who was chosen sixteenth overall that year.

Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley and John Stockton made up the cream of the 1984 crop. Photos from EPA and AFP

Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley and John Stockton made up the cream of the 1984 crop. Photos from EPA and AFP

Jordan, Stockton and Barkley not only had Hall of Fame careers in the NBA, but they also represented the USA as part of The Dream Team at the 1992 Olympic games in Barcelona where they easily won gold.

While the 1984 draft set the bar upon which other draft classes are compared, the 2003 NBA draft may end up rivaling it as the best ever.

Think I’m wrong? Let’s take a stroll down memory lane for a minute.

The top five picks in the 2003 draft were:

  1. LeBron James
  2. Darko Miličić
  3. Carmelo Anthony
  4. Chris Bosh
  5. Dwyane Wade

While Miličić has retired from the NBA, the other four players selected in the top five are still working on their legacies.

James and Wade will eventually walk right into the Hall of Fame as first ballot inductees, and Bosh and Anthony are putting together a strong argument in their favor as well.

The Gold Standard

Similar to ’84 draftees that earned gold together at the 1992 Olympics, the ’03 draftees earned gold together at the 2008 summer games in Beijing.

LeBron James playing for Team USA

LeBron James competing for Team USA (Photo: Tim Shelby)

While Bosh and Wade sat out the 2012 Olympics, James and Anthony were back once again, reinforced with a new crop of young NBA players like Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis. The USA took home the gold again.

Kobe Bryant played with James and Anthony in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic games. In 2012 he told ESPN that he believed the 2012 Olympic team would win against The Dream Team.

Well, from a basketball standpoint, they obviously have a lot more size than we do – you know with Robinson and Ewing and Malone and those guys. But they were also – some of those wing players – were also a lot older, at kind of the end of their careers. So I don’t know. It’d be a tough one, but I think we’d pull it out. – Kobe Bryant

Barkley found Bryant’s optimism funny:

I ain’t got to badmouth them. But like I said, their point guards weren’t going to beat us. That’s a no-brainer. How old is Kobe Bryant? And he’s calling us old? At the time we were only like 28, 29. Michael Jordan and me were the same age. We were both 29… Other than Kobe, LeBron and Kevin Durant, I don’t think anybody else on that team makes our team. – Charles Barkley

Bryant later clarified that he didn’t think the 2012 team was better than The Dream Team, only that the 2012 team could beat The Dream Team in at least one game.

When Jordan was told of Bryant’s comments he just laughed and told The Associated Press, “For him to compare those two teams is not one of the smarter things he ever could have done.”

James told ESPN:

The  ’92 Dream Team paved the way for all of us… We understand what they did for our game, but we also are big-time competitors as well, so if we got the opportunity to play them in a game we feel like we would win too. – LeBron James

It’s impossible to know with certainty which team would beat the other in a one-game series, but it’s fun to speculate.

About the author


Kristina writes about NFL and NBA athletes. She founded The Sports Loop and can be reached on Twitter at @kristinarunning. She's a marathoner and hopes to one day be an ultramarathoner.