2003–04 NBA season

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2003–04 NBA season
LeagueNational Basketball Association
DurationOctober 28, 2003 – April 14, 2004
April 17 – June 1, 2004 (Playoffs)
June 6 – 15, 2004 (Finals)
Number of teams29
TV partner(s)ABC, TNT, ESPN, NBA TV
Top draft pickLeBron James
Picked byCleveland Cavaliers
Regular season
Top seedIndiana Pacers
Season MVPKevin Garnett (Minnesota)
Top scorerTracy McGrady (Orlando)
Eastern championsDetroit Pistons
  Eastern runners-upIndiana Pacers
Western championsLos Angeles Lakers
  Western runners-upMinnesota Timberwolves
ChampionsDetroit Pistons
  Runners-upLos Angeles Lakers
Finals MVPChauncey Billups (Detroit)
NBA seasons
The San Antonio Spurs hosting the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 4 of the 2004 Western Conference Semifinals at the SBC Center.

The 2003–04 NBA season was the 58th season of the National Basketball Association. The season ended with the Detroit Pistons defeating the Los Angeles Lakers 4–1 in the 2004 NBA Finals.


This was the final season for the original two-division format in both the Eastern and Western Conferences, before each of the conferences added a third division the following season. As a result, this would also be the final season for the NBA Midwest Division, as the Minnesota Timberwolves were that division's last champion, the only division title the franchise has won in their twenty-nine seasons in the NBA.

The All-Star Game was held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The West won 136-132; Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal was named Most Valuable Player.

For the first time in 21 years the Portland Trail Blazers did not make the playoffs, ending the second longest streak in NBA history. For the first time in 20 years the Utah Jazz did not make the playoffs, ending the third longest streak in NBA history.

The Houston Rockets played their first game at the Toyota Center. They reached the playoffs for the first time since 1999 and lose to eventual Conference champions Lakers in five games marked the only playoff appearance of Steve Francis NBA career.

Prior to the start of the season, Karl Malone and Gary Payton took major paycuts to leave their teams and join Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal on the Lakers for a chance at a possible NBA title. However, that title chase came to an end in the NBA Finals, as the Detroit Pistons won 4-1. The Minnesota Timberwolves, behind their "Big Three" of Kevin Garnett, Latrell Sprewell, and Sam Cassell, amassed the best record in the Western Conference, and were expected to finally win a first round playoff series. They won two and advanced to the Western Conference Finals, which they lost to the Lakers. It would be their last playoff appearance until the 2017–18 season.

LeBron James (1st overall to Cleveland), Carmelo Anthony (3rd overall to Denver), Chris Bosh (4th overall to Toronto), and Dwyane Wade (5th overall to Miami), among others, formed one of the strongest drafts in NBA history. Among the highly touted rookies, Anthony and Wade led their teams to the playoffs, and Wade's play pushed the Heat into the second round. James went on to win NBA Rookie of the Year. Anthony became the first NBA rookie to lead a playoff team in scoring since David Robinson of the San Antonio Spurs during the 1989–90 season.

The Memphis Grizzlies qualified for the postseason for the first time in the franchise's then 9 year history, dating back to their days in Vancouver. With a record of 50-32, it was also the first time they posted a winning season. It was also their final season played at Pyramid Arena.

Tracy McGrady was the first scoring leader since Bernard King in 1984–85 whose team did not make the playoffs.


Coaching changes
Team 2002–03 coach 2003–04 coach
Cleveland Cavaliers Keith Smart Paul Silas
Detroit Pistons Rick Carlisle Larry Brown
Houston Rockets Rudy Tomjanovich Jeff Van Gundy
Indiana Pacers Isiah Thomas Rick Carlisle
Los Angeles Clippers Dennis Johnson Mike Dunleavy, Sr.
Miami Heat Pat Riley Stan Van Gundy
Milwaukee Bucks George Karl Terry Porter
New Orleans Hornets Paul Silas Tim Floyd
Philadelphia 76ers Larry Brown Randy Ayers
Toronto Raptors Lenny Wilkens Kevin O'Neill
Washington Wizards Doug Collins Eddie Jordan
Team Outgoing coach Incoming coach
Boston Celtics Jim O'Brien John Carroll
Chicago Bulls Bill Cartwright Pete Myers
Pete Myers Scott Skiles
New Jersey Nets Byron Scott Lawrence Frank
New York Knicks Don Chaney Herb Williams
Herb Williams Lenny Wilkens
Orlando Magic Doc Rivers Johnny Davis
Philadelphia 76ers Randy Ayers Chris Ford
Phoenix Suns Frank Johnson Mike D'Antoni


By division[edit]

By conference[edit]


  • z – Clinched home court advantage for the entire playoffs
  • c – Clinched home court advantage for the conference playoffs
  • y – Clinched division title
  • x – Clinched playoff spot


Teams in bold advanced to the next round. The numbers to the left of each team indicate the team's seeding in its conference, and the numbers to the right indicate the number of games the team won in that round. The division champions are marked by an asterisk. Home court advantage does not necessarily belong to the higher-seeded team, but instead the team with the better regular season record; teams enjoying the home advantage are shown in italics.

  Conference Quarterfinals Conference Semifinals Conference Finals NBA Finals
E1 Indiana* 4  
E8 Boston 0  
  E1 Indiana* 4  
  E4 Miami 2  
E4 Miami 4
E5 New Orleans 3  
  E1 Indiana* 2  
Eastern Conference
  E3 Detroit 4  
E3 Detroit 4  
E6 Milwaukee 1  
  E3 Detroit 4
  E2 New Jersey* 3  
E2 New Jersey* 4
E7 New York 0  
  E3 Detroit 4
  W2 LA Lakers* 1
W1 Minnesota* 4  
W8 Denver 1  
  W1 Minnesota* 4
  W4 Sacramento 3  
W4 Sacramento 4
W5 Dallas 1  
  W1 Minnesota* 2
Western Conference
  W2 LA Lakers* 4  
W3 San Antonio 4  
W6 Memphis 0  
  W3 San Antonio 2
  W2 LA Lakers* 4  
W2 LA Lakers* 4
W7 Houston 1  

* Division winner
Bold Series winner
Italic Team with home-court advantage

Statistics leaders[edit]

Category Player Team Stat
Points per game Tracy McGrady Orlando Magic 28.0
Rebounds per game Kevin Garnett Minnesota Timberwolves 13.9
Assists per game Jason Kidd New Jersey Nets 9.2
Steals per game Baron Davis New Orleans Hornets 2.36
Blocks per game Theo Ratliff Portland Trail Blazers 3.61
FG% Shaquille O'Neal Los Angeles Lakers .584
FT% Peja Stojaković Sacramento Kings .927
3FG% Anthony Peeler Sacramento Kings .482


Yearly awards[edit]

Players of the month[edit]

The following players were named the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Month.

Month Eastern Conference Western Conference
October – November Baron Davis (New Orleans Hornets) (1/1) Peja Stojaković (Sacramento Kings) (1/1)
December Jermaine O'Neal (Indiana Pacers) (1/1) Kevin Garnett (Minnesota Timberwolves) (1/4)
January Michael Redd (Milwaukee Bucks) (1/1) Kevin Garnett (Minnesota Timberwolves) (2/4)
February Kenyon Martin (New Jersey Nets) (1/1) Kevin Garnett (Minnesota Timberwolves) (3/4)
March Lamar Odom (Miami Heat) (1/1) Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers) (1/1)
April Jamaal Magloire (New Orleans Hornets) (1/1) Kevin Garnett (Minnesota Timberwolves) (4/4)

Rookies of the month[edit]

The following players were named the Eastern and Western Conference Rookies of the Month.

Month Eastern Conference Western Conference
October – November LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers) (1/6) Carmelo Anthony (Denver Nuggets) (1/6)
December LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers) (2/6) Carmelo Anthony (Denver Nuggets) (2/6)
January LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers) (3/6) Carmelo Anthony (Denver Nuggets) (3/6)
February LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers) (4/6) Carmelo Anthony (Denver Nuggets) (4/6)
March LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers) (5/6) Carmelo Anthony (Denver Nuggets) (5/6)
April LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers) (6/6) Carmelo Anthony (Denver Nuggets) (6/6)

Coaches of the month[edit]

The following coaches were named the Eastern and Western Conference Coaches of the Month.

Month Eastern Conference Western Conference
October – November Rick Carlisle (Indiana Pacers) (1/1) Phil Jackson (Los Angeles Lakers) (1/1)
December Byron Scott (New Jersey Nets) (1/1) Gregg Popovich (San Antonio Spurs) (1/1)
January Larry Brown (Detroit Pistons) (1/2) Rick Adelman (Sacramento Kings) (1/1)
February Lawrence Frank (New Jersey Nets) (1/1) Hubie Brown (Memphis Grizzlies) (1/2)
March Stan Van Gundy (Miami Heat) (1/1) Hubie Brown (Memphis Grizzlies) (2/2)
April Larry Brown (Detroit Pistons) (2/2) Flip Saunders (Minnesota Timberwolves) (1/1)


First games[edit]

The following is a list of notable players who played their first NBA game during the 2003–04 season, listed with their first team.

^ Active NBA player
* Inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
Player Team Notability
LeBron James^ Cleveland Cavaliers First overall pick in the 2003 Draft
2003–04 NBA Rookie of the Year winner
17-time NBA All-Star
16-time All-NBA Team
Six-time All-Defensive Team
Four-time NBA MVP
Four-time NBA Finals MVP
Three-time NBA All-Star Game MVP
Four-time NBA champion
2003–04 All-Rookie Team
Carmelo Anthony^ Denver Nuggets 10-time NBA All-Star
Six-time All-NBA Team
2003–04 All-Rookie Team
Dwyane Wade Miami Heat 13-time NBA All-Star
Eight-time All-NBA Team
Three-time All-Defensive Team
One-time NBA Finals MVP
One-time NBA All-Star Game MVP
Three-time NBA champion
2003–04 All-Rookie Team
Chris Bosh Toronto Raptors 11-time NBA All-Star
One-time All-NBA Team
Two-time NBA champion
2003–04 All-Rookie Team
David West New Orleans Hornets Two-time NBA All-Star
Two-time NBA champion
Mo Williams Utah Jazz One-time NBA All-Star
One-time NBA champion
Josh Howard Dallas Mavericks One-time NBA All-Star
2003–04 All-Rookie Team
Chris Kaman Los Angeles Clippers One-time NBA All-Star
Kyle Korver Philadelphia 76ers One-time NBA All-Star
Leandro Barbosa Phoenix Suns One-time Sixth Man of the Year
One-time NBA champion
Boris Diaw Atlanta Hawks 2005–06 Most Improved Player
One-time NBA champion
Kirk Hinrich Chicago Bulls One-time All-Defensive Team
2003–04 All-Rookie Team
Udonis Haslem Miami Heat Three-time NBA champion
2003–04 All-Rookie Team
Marquis Daniels Dallas Mavericks 2003–04 All-Rookie Team
T. J. Ford Milwaukee Bucks 2003–04 All-Rookie Team
Jarvis Hayes Washington Wizards 2003–04 All-Rookie Team
Zaza Pachulia Orlando Magic Two-time NBA champion
Over 1,000 games played

Last games[edit]

Player Team Notability
Dana Barros Boston Celtics One-time NBA All-Star
1994–95 Most Improved Player
Rick Fox Los Angeles Lakers Three-time NBA champion
1991–92 All-Rookie Team
Horace Grant Los Angeles Lakers One-time NBA All-Star
Four-time All-Defensive Team
Four-time NBA champion
Tyrone Hill Miami Heat One-time NBA All-Star
Mark Jackson Houston Rockets 1987–88 NBA Rookie of the Year winner
One-time NBA All-Star
1987–88 All-Rookie Team
Avery Johnson Golden State Warriors One-time NBA champion (as player)
One-time Coach of the Year (as coach)
Karl Malone* Los Angeles Lakers 14-time NBA All-Star
14-time All-NBA Team
Four-time All-Defensive Team
Two-time NBA MVP
Two-time NBA All-Star Game MVP
1985–86 All-Rookie Team
Jamal Mashburn New Orleans Hornets One-time NBA All-Star
One-time All-NBA Team
1993–94 All-Rookie Team
Charles Oakley Houston Rockets One-time NBA All-Star
Two-time All-Defensive Team
1985–86 All-Rookie Team
Scottie Pippen* Chicago Bulls Seven-time NBA All-Star
Seven-time All-NBA Team
10-time All-Defensive Team
One-time NBA All-Star Game MVP
Six-time NBA champion
Olden Polynice Los Angeles Clippers Over 1,000 games played
Glen Rice Los Angeles Clippers Three-time NBA All-Star
Two-time All-NBA Team
One-time NBA All-Star Game MVP
One-time NBA champion
1989–90 All-Rookie Team