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2002–03 NBA season
League National Basketball Association
Sport Basketball
TV partner/s ABC, TNT, ESPN, NBA TV
Draft
Top draft pick Yao Ming
Picked by Houston Rockets
Regular season
Season MVP Tim Duncan (San Antonio)
Top scorer Tracy McGrady (Orlando)
Playoffs
Eastern champions New Jersey Nets
Eastern runners-up Detroit Pistons
Western champions San Antonio Spurs
Western runners-up Dallas Mavericks
Finals
Finals champions San Antonio Spurs
Runners-up New Jersey Nets
Finals MVP Tim Duncan (San Antonio)

The 2002–03 NBA season was the 57th season of the National Basketball Association. The season ended with the San Antonio Spurs beating the New Jersey Nets 4-2 in the 2003 NBA Finals.

Notable occurrences

  • The Hornets relocate from Charlotte, North Carolina to New Orleans, Louisiana, resulting in a two-year absence for the Carolinas, until the birth of the Charlotte Bobcats in 2004. They also play their first game at New Orleans Arena. As a result the NBA prohibits NBA games (except national games) from being broadcast in the Carolinas.
  • The San Antonio Spurs played their first game at the SBC Center (now the AT&T Center).
  • The Houston Rockets played their final game at the Compaq Center (formerly The Summit).
  • The 2003 NBA All-Star Game was held at the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. The West won 155-145 in double overtime, the longest All-Star game in NBA history. Minnesota's Kevin Garnett took the game's MVP honors. It was also the last time an Eastern Conference city hosted an All-Star Game, and the last time a rookie played (and started) an All-Star game, with Yao Ming making his all-star debut.
  • Michael Jordan announces his third and final retirement. He plays his last game on April 16, 2003 in Philadelphia.
  • The NBA on ABC begins (replacing NBA on NBC) again after a 29 year hiatus when the NBA signs new television deals with TNT and the consortium of ABC and ESPN. This agreement significantly decreased the amount of games on network television, including the playoffs, in which very few games are shown on ABC, with the exception of the NBA Finals, which are shown entirely on ABC. Also, both conference finals are shown live on cable for the first time.
  • For the first time in NBA history, two former ABA teams contest each other in the NBA Finals, the New Jersey Nets versus the San Antonio Spurs. The Nets became the only team in NBA Finals history to wear a throwback uniform in a Finals game, wearing their 1976 home uniforms in Game 5.
  • A new instant replay rule is in effect to help officials in determining close calls. Bright red lights are installed on the backboards and scoring tables to make the shot easier to figure out.
  • The NBA changes the first round format from a best of five game series to a best of seven game series for the 2003 NBA Playoffs.
  • A new low in television ratings for the NBA Finals is reached, replacing the 1981 series as the least watched Finals (later surpassed by the 2007 finals).
  • On January 7, Kobe Bryant scored 45 points against Seattle. Kobe made nine consecutive three-pointers and finished with 12 overall, a new NBA record for most "3's" in a game, later tied by Donyell Marshall.
  • Eight NBA teams (the Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets, Milwaukee Bucks, New Jersey Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings, and Washington Wizards) wore throwback uniforms to celebrate the first ever NBA Hardwood Classics Nights, commemorating either a player milestone, team anniversary or championship anniversary. The NBA All-Star Game in Atlanta featured NBA players wearing the 1987 All-Star uniforms as an extension.
  • The Los Angeles Lakers debuted their white and gold alternate jerseys in a loss against the Sacramento Kings on December 25, 2002 at Staples Center. The jerseys were designed as a tribute to long-time announcer Chick Hearn, who passed away on August 5 from a head injury caused by a fall. The Lakers also sport a black patch in his honor.
  • The Toronto Raptors set a dubious NBA record by not dressing 12 players for any of their games.
  • Lenny Wilkens becomes the all time leader in losses surpassing Bill Fitch.
  • Reebok became the official outfitter for NBA teams, except those still under contract with Nike. Reebok would later become the endorser for all NBA teams in 2004 until its merger and subsequent transfer to Adidas in 2006.

Final standings

Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division
Team W L PCT GB
New Jersey Nets 49 33 .598 -
Philadelphia 76ers 48 34 .585 1
Boston Celtics 44 38 .537 5
Orlando Magic 42 40 .512 7
Washington Wizards 37 45 .451 12
New York Knicks 37 45 .451 12
Miami Heat 25 57 .305 24
Central Division
Team W L PCT GB
Detroit Pistons 50 32 .610 -
Indiana Pacers 48 34 .585 2
New Orleans Hornets 47 35 .573 3
Milwaukee Bucks 42 40 .512 8
Atlanta Hawks 35 47 .427 15
Chicago Bulls 30 52 .366 20
Toronto Raptors 24 58 .293 26
Cleveland Cavaliers 17 65 .207 33

Western Conference

Midwest Division
Team W L PCT GB
San Antonio Spurs C 60 22 .732 -
Dallas Mavericks 60 22 .732 -
Minnesota Timberwolves 51 31 .622 9
Utah Jazz 47 35 .573 13
Houston Rockets 43 39 .524 17
Memphis Grizzlies 28 54 .341 32
Denver Nuggets 17 65 .207 43
Pacific Division
Team W L PCT GB
Sacramento Kings 59 23 .720 -
Los Angeles Lakers 50 32 .610 9
Portland Trail Blazers 50 32 .610 9
Phoenix Suns 44 38 .537 15
Seattle SuperSonics 40 42 .488 19
Golden State Warriors 38 44 .463 21
Los Angeles Clippers 27 55 .329 32

C - NBA Champions

Statistics leaders

Category Player Team Stat
Points per game Tracy McGrady Orlando Magic 32.1
Rebounds per game Ben Wallace Detroit Pistons 15.4
Assists per game Jason Kidd New Jersey Nets 8.9
Steals per game Allen Iverson Philadelphia 76ers 2.7
Blocks per game Theo Ratliff Atlanta Hawks 3.2
FG% Eddy Curry Chicago Bulls 58.5
FT% Allan Houston New York Knicks 91.9
3FG% Bruce Bowen San Antonio Spurs 44.1

NBA awards

  • Most Valuable Player: Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
  • Rookie of the Year: Amar'e Stoudemire, Phoenix Suns
  • Defensive Player of the Year: Ben Wallace, Detroit Pistons
  • Sixth Man of the Year: Bobby Jackson, Sacramento Kings
  • Most Improved Player: Gilbert Arenas, Golden State Warriors
  • Coach of the Year: Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs
  • Executive of the Year: Joe Dumars, Detroit Pistons
  • Sportsmanship Award: Ray Allen, Seattle SuperSonics
  • All-NBA First Team:
    • F - Kevin Garnett, Minnesota Timberwolves
    • F - Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
    • C - Shaquille O'Neal, Los Angeles Lakers
    • G - Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
    • G - Tracy McGrady, Orlando Magic
  • All-NBA Second Team:
    • F - Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
    • F - Chris Webber, Sacramento Kings
    • C - Ben Wallace, Detroit Pistons
    • G - Jason Kidd, New Jersey Nets
    • G - Allen Iverson, Philadelphia 76ers
  • All-NBA Third Team:
    • F - Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics
    • F - Jamal Mashburn, New Orleans Hornets
    • F - Jermaine O'Neal, Indiana Pacers
    • G - Stephon Marbury, Phoenix Suns
    • G - Steve Nash, Dallas Mavericks
  • All-Defensive First Team:
    • F - Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
    • F - Kevin Garnett, Minnesota Timberwolves
    • C - Ben Wallace, Detroit Pistons
    • G - Doug Christie, Sacramento Kings
    • G - Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
  • All-Defensive Second Team:
    • F - Ron Artest, Indiana Pacers
    • F - Bruce Bowen, San Antonio Spurs
    • C - Shaquille O'Neal, Los Angeles Lakers
    • G - Jason Kidd, New Jersey Nets
    • G - Eric Snow, Philadelphia 76ers
  • All-Rookie First Team:
    • Yao Ming, Houston Rockets
    • Amar'e Stoudemire, Phoenix Suns
    • Caron Butler, Miami Heat
    • Drew Gooden, Orlando Magic
    • Nenê Hilario, Denver Nuggets
  • All-Rookie Second Team:
    • G - Manu Ginóbili, San Antonio Spurs
    • G - Gordan Giricek, Orlando Magic
    • F - Carlos Boozer, Cleveland Cavaliers
    • G - Jay Williams, Chicago Bulls
    • G - J. R. Bremer, Boston Celtics

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