LeBron James, dressed in savior white, selected first in NBA draft
June 24, 2003 at 11:46 PM EST - Updated June 22 at 9:43 AM
By CHRIS SHERIDAN, AP Basketball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) - LeBron James went No. 1, Andres Gliniadakis went No. 58. In between there were trades, one big slippage and a few pronunciation problems.
An NBA draft that began with James, the high school phenom from Akron going to the Cleveland Cavaliers, ended with a record 21 international players being chosen in the two rounds.
"I think some of these teams made a mistake," said Polish center Maciej Lampe, who was projected as a lottery pick but fell all the way to No. 30 -- the first pick of the second round -- where he was selected by the New York Knicks.
Nobody was accusing the Cavs of making a mistake with their selection of James, who strode onstage wearing an all-white suit -- appropriate garb for a player expected to be the team's savior.
The most heralded high school player of a generation, James is considered a can't-miss prospect with the skills of a guard, the body of a forward and the potential of a superstar.
"I'm one of the highest publicized players in the country right now, and I haven't even played one game of basketball in the NBA. I know I'm a marked man," James (pictured, above) said.
Serbian 7-footer Darko Milicic was chosen second by the Detroit Pistons, and Carmelo Anthony, who led Syracuse to the national championship, was chosen third by the Denver Nuggets -- capping the drama-less first 15 minutes.
"Darko Milicic is not going to have to come here and be the savior," said Joe Dumars, Detroit's president of basketball operations. "LeBron is going to have to be the savior in Cleveland, there's no getting around that. Carmelo is going to be expected to carry a huge load.
"We're going to push (Milicic) to be the best he can be. But, he's not going to be judged on whether he carried us this year. We think that's an excellent situation for him and for us."
The Toronto Raptors, after listening to trade offers throughout the day, used the No. 4 pick on 6-foot-11 freshman forward Chris Bosh of Georgia Tech.
Miami then went for Marquette junior guard Dwyane Wade.
The night's first of seven trades came about 90 minutes after James was chosen, with Memphis sending the rights to the 13th pick, Marcus Banks of UNLV, and the 27th pick (Kendrick Perkins of Beaumont, Texas) to the Boston Celtics for the rights to picks 16 (Troy Bell of Boston College) and 20 (Dahntay Jones of Duke).
"His strength is speed. That's why we got him," Ainge said. "It would be silly not to have Marcus Banks running with the basketball in his hands. It allows Antoine Walker and Paul Pierce to play more of their natural positions."
San Antonio later traded the 28th pick, Brazilian point guard Leandro Barbosa, to Phoenix for a future first-round pick. There were five deals involving second-round picks.
Central Michigan center Chris Kaman, a 7-footer who averaged 22.4 points last season as a junior, went sixth to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Kirk Hinrich of Kansas was the first college senior to be selected, going seventh to Chicago. The Bulls will likely be without Jay Williams, the second overall pick of last year's draft, for at least a year after he broke his leg in a motorcycle accident last weekend.
T.J. Ford of Texas, winner of the Naismith and Wooden awards, went at No. 8 to the Milwaukee Bucks -- a possible sign that the franchise expects point guard Gary Payton to leave as a free agent over the summer.
The Knicks selected Georgetown power forward Michael Sweetney -- a choice that brought a mixed reaction from a partisan crowd that was on its feet as Stern announced the selection. The crowd later went nuts when the Knicks landed Lampe, who responded by holding a raised fist to the crowd.
Jarvis Hayes of Georgia went 10th to the Washington Wizards, who signed Jerry Stackhouse to a two-year contract extension earlier Thursday.
Mickael Pietrus, a 6-6 swingman from France, was the second of a record nine international players taken in the first round, going 11th to the Golden State Warriors.
Nick Collison of Kansas, the second-leading scorer in school history behind Danny Manning, went 12th to the Seattle SuperSonics -- the only team with two of the top 14 picks.
After Memphis selected Banks, Seattle used its second pick on Oregon point guard Luke Ridnour, and Orlando tabbed Louisville's Reece Gaines at No. 15 - the fifth point guard selection of the round.
Serbian teammates Zarko Cabarkapa (17th, Phoenix) and Aleksandar Pavlovic (19th, Utah) from Buducnost broke the top 20, while a third player from that club -- 7-foot-4 center Slavko Vranes went 39th to the Knicks.
High school seniors went 26th (Ndudi Ebi of Houston to the Minnesota Timberwolves) and 27th (Perkins).
Notable second-round selections included Arizona's Luke Walton, the son of Bill Walton, going 32nd to the Lakers, Greek teenager Sofoklis Schortsinitis going 34th to the Clippers and Washington taking Maryland guard Steve Blake 38th. China's Xue Yuyang went to Dallas on behalf of Denver with the next-to-last pick.
Gliniadakis, of Greece, went last to the Pistons.
Milwaukee dealt the 43rd pick, Kentucky's Keith Bogans, to Orlando for cash. Toronto acquired Florida's Matt Bonner, the No. 45 pick, from Chicago for a future second-round draft pick.
New Jersey traded the right to Creighton's Kyle Korver, the 51st pick, to Philadelphia for cash. The Sixers also sent cash and the rights to No. 50 pick Paccelis Morlende to Seattle for No. 41 pick Willie Green of Detroit Mercy.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)