LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony and other big names drafted on June 26th
June 26th is a historic day for the NBA Draft.
It’s a day that many superstar players began their NBA journey.
There are several All-Stars, future Hall of Famers, and even a couple of current active players who still have plenty left in the tank that were all drafted on June 26 over three different years of NBA Drafts: 1996, 2002, or 2003.
Let's take a look back at some of the June 26 NBA Drafts over the years...
Kobe Bryant – 1996 Draft
The 1996 NBA draft marked the 50th draft in the league. It was held on June 26, 1996 at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
In this draft, there’s no one more noteworthy than the late Kobe Bryant.
At the age of 17, Kobe was drafted 13th overall by the Charlotte Hornets in the 1996 NBA Draft before being traded on draft night to the Los Angeles Lakers.
After agreeing to a deal, the Lakers told the Hornets whom to select just minutes before the pick was made. Bryant was the first guard to be drafted directly out of high school.
The 1996 NBA Draft has been considered one of the deepest and most talented drafts in league history, which makes sense when talking about a draft class that includes the Black Mamba.
Allen Iverson – 1996 NBA Draft
The Vancouver Grizzlies had the highest probability to win the NBA draft lottery in ‘96, but since they were an expansion team along with the Toronto Raptors, they were not allowed to select first.
Thus, the team with the second-highest probability, the Philadelphia 76ers, won the lottery and obtained the first pick.
This was the year that the Allen Iverson era began in Philly. As a sophomore out of Georgetown, Iverson was selected No. 1 overall by the 76ers.
The 2001 Most Valuable Player averaged 28 points, 6.1 assists, and 4.0 rebounds for the 76ers from 1996-2006. And since we're talking about A.I., we have to mention that he also brought us the infamous “we’re talking about practice, man.” #NeverForget
Other notables from 1996 NBA Draft
We can’t forget about Steve Nash.
Nash played 18 seasons in the NBA after he was selected 15th overall by Phoenix Suns in the ’96 draft. He was an eight-time NBA All-Star and earned All-NBA selection seven times. Nash played for the Suns from 1996-98 and then again from 2004-2012.
As for the Portland Trail Blazers, Portland took Jermaine O’Neal at No. 17 in the ’96 draft.
Unfortunately for the Blazers, O’Neal’s career didn’t take off until he left Portland for Indiana. He played for the Pacers from 2000-08 while earning the Most Improved Award in the 2001-02 season.
Most experts rate the 1996 NBA Draft among one of the best NBA’s best drafts along with the 1984 NBA draft and 2003 NBA draft. A third of the first round picks later became NBA All-Stars.
Yao Ming – 2002 NBA Draft
The 2002 NBA draft took place on June 26, 2002 at The Theater at Madison Square Garden.
This draft set a record with 17 international players selected, including six international players in the first round.
Outside of the top prospects like No. 1 overall pick Yao Ming, this draft was not a very deep one.
Ming played eight seasons for the Rockets after Houston drafted him in ‘02. He averaged 19.0 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 1.6 assists over his career. Yao was selected to play in eight All-Star Games and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2016.
Top players in the ’02 draft had their careers cut short due to injury, such as Ming, Jay Williams and Dajuan Wagner.
Qyntel Woods – 2002 NBA Draft
In the 2002 Draft, Portland selected Qynetel Woods with the 21st pick out of Northeast Mississippi Community College.
In his first two seasons with Portland, Woods played in a total of 115 games while averaging 2.4 and 3.6 points per game. The 2004–05 season brought about off-court trouble for Woods. The former Blazers forward played in just four seasons in the league.
LeBron James – 2003 NBA Draft
The 2003 NBA Draft was a star-studded event taking place on June 26 at The Theater at Madison Square Garden.
With a 22.50 percent probability of obtaining the first-overall pick, the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA draft lottery on May 22.
And thus the LeBron James era as the No. 1 overall selection was born.
The ‘03 draft is known for having one of the most talented draft pools in history.
LeBron earned the NBA Most Valuable Player Award, and the NBA Finals MVP in 2012, 2013 and 2016, while Carmelo Anthony won the NBA Scoring Title in 2013.
As of this 2019-20 season, LeBron, Melo, and Kyle Korver are all still lacing it up after being part of the ’03 draft class.
Carmelo Anthony – 2003 NBA Draft
Let’s stay Melo.
The current Trail Blazers forward was drafted No. 3 overall by the Denver Nuggets. He was selected behind LeBron and Darko Milicic, who the Pistons took at No. 2.
The 10x NBA All-Star is now in his 17th season in the league after being out of the league for nearly a year last season.
In 50 games played in the 2019-20 season with the Trail Blazers, Anthony is averaging 15.3 points and 6.3 rebounds in 32.5 minutes of work.
Travis Outlaw – 2003 NBA Draft
The 2003-04 season brought Travis Outlaw to Portland.
Entering the 2003 NBA Draft directly out of high school, Outlaw was a first-round selection for Portland at pick No. 23. He averaged 8.6 points on 44.2% field goal shooting and 3.2 rebounds per game during his first five years in the league.
In July of 2007, Outlaw became a restricted free agent. He signed a three-year contract extension with Portland that summer.
Other notables from 2003 NBA Draft
Here’s a list of other well-known NBA players who started their NBA careers on June 26, 2003:
Chris Bosh (No. 4, Toronto Raptors)
Dwyane Wade (No. 5, Miami Heat)
Chris Kaman (No. 6, LA Clippers)
Boris Diaw (No. 21, Atlanta Hawks from Indiana Pacers)
Kendrick Perkins (No. 27 Memphis Grizzlies from Sacramento Kings via Orlando, traded to Boston)
Steve Blake (No. 38, Washington Wizards)