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2003–04 NBA season
League National Basketball Association
Sport Basketball
TV partner/s ABC, TNT, ESPN, NBA TV
Draft
Top draft pick LeBron James
Picked by Cleveland Cavaliers
Regular season
Season MVP Kevin Garnett (Minnesota)
Top scorer Tracy McGrady (Orlando)
Playoffs
Eastern champions Detroit Pistons
Eastern runners-up Indiana Pacers
Western champions Los Angeles Lakers
Western runners-up Minnesota Timberwolves
Finals
Finals champions Detroit Pistons
Runners-up Los Angeles Lakers
Finals MVP Chauncey Billups (Detroit)

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.

Notable occurrences

  • 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 Houston Rockets play their first game at the Toyota Center.
  • The All-Star Game was held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The West won 136-132; Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal is 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, Denver Nuggets, Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic introduced new team uniforms.
  • 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; that title chase came to an end in the NBA Finals, as the Detroit Pistons won 4-1.
  • Behind their "Big Three" of Kevin Garnett, Latrell Sprewell, and Sam Cassell, the Minnesota Timberwolves 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.
  • Scoring in the league reached an all-time low. Many teams recorded their franchise lows in several scoring categories.
  • 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, form 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.
  • After eight losing seasons, the Memphis Grizzlies secure a 50-32 record to make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. It was also their final season at the Pyramid, before moving to their new arena the following season.
  • All Texas teams make the playoffs in the same year for the first time in 14 years.
  • All Midwest Division teams finished over .500, but the Jazz missed the playoffs.
  • Scottie Pippen returned to play for the Chicago Bulls.
  • The Boston Celtics broke a long tradition by sporting white sneakers prior to their home opener against the Miami Heat. The white sneakers would become a norm on home games ever since.

Final standings

Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division
Team W L PCT GB
New Jersey Nets 47 35 .573 -
Miami Heat 42 40 .512 5
New York Knicks 39 43 .476 8
Boston Celtics 36 46 .439 11
Philadelphia 76ers 33 49 .402 14
Washington Wizards 25 57 .305 22
Orlando Magic 21 61 .256 26
Central Division
Team W L PCT GB
Indiana Pacers 61 21 .744 -
Detroit Pistons C 54 28 .659 7
New Orleans Hornets 41 41 .500 20
Milwaukee Bucks 41 41 .500 20
Cleveland Cavaliers 35 47 .427 26
Toronto Raptors 33 49 .402 28
Atlanta Hawks 28 54 .341 33
Chicago Bulls 23 59 .280 38

Western Conference

Midwest Division
Team W L PCT GB
Minnesota Timberwolves 58 24 .707 -
San Antonio Spurs 57 25 .695 1
Dallas Mavericks 52 30 .634 6
Memphis Grizzlies 50 32 .610 8
Houston Rockets 45 37 .549 13
Denver Nuggets 43 39 .524 15
Utah Jazz 42 40 .512 16
Pacific Division
Team W L PCT GB
Los Angeles Lakers 56 26 .683 -
Sacramento Kings 55 27 .671 1
Portland Trail Blazers 41 41 .500 15
Golden State Warriors 37 45 .451 19
Seattle SuperSonics 37 45 .451 19
Phoenix Suns 29 53 .354 27
Los Angeles Clippers 28 54 .341 28

C NBA Champions

Statistics leaders

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 2.4
Blocks per game Theo Ratliff Portland Trail Blazers 3.6
FG% Shaquille O'Neal Los Angeles Lakers 58.4
FT% Peja Stojaković Sacramento Kings 92.7
3FG% Anthony Peeler Sacramento Kings 48.2

NBA awards

  • Most Valuable Player: Kevin Garnett, Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Rookie of the Year: LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Defensive Player of the Year: Ron Artest, Indiana Pacers
  • Sixth Man of the Year: Antawn Jamison, Dallas Mavericks
  • Most Improved Player: Zach Randolph, Portland Trail Blazers
  • Coach of the Year: Hubie Brown, Memphis Grizzlies
  • Executive of the Year: Jerry West, Memphis Grizzlies
  • Sportsmanship Award: P. J. Brown, New Orleans Hornets
  • 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 - Jason Kidd, New Jersey Nets
  • All-NBA Second Team:
    • G - Tracy McGrady, Orlando Magic
    • F - Peja Stojakovic, Sacramento Kings
    • C - Ben Wallace, Detroit Pistons
    • G - Sam Cassell, Minnesota Timberwolves
    • F - Jermaine O'Neal, Indiana Pacers
  • All-NBA Third Team
    • F - Ron Artest, Indiana Pacers
    • F - Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
    • C - Yao Ming, Houston Rockets
    • G - Baron Davis, New Orleans Hornets
    • G - Michael Redd, Milwaukee Bucks
  • NBA All-Defensive First Team
    • F - Ron Artest, Indiana Pacers
    • F - Kevin Garnett, Minnesota Timberwolves
    • C - Ben Wallace, Detroit Pistons
    • G - Bruce Bowen, San Antonio Spurs
    • G - Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
  • NBA All-Defensive Second Team
    • F - Andrei Kirilenko, Utah Jazz
    • F - Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
    • C - Theo Ratliff, Portland Trail Blazers
    • G - Doug Christie, Sacramento Kings
    • G - Jason Kidd, New Jersey Nets
  • All-Rookie First Team:
    • LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
    • Carmelo Anthony, Denver Nuggets
    • Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
    • Chris Bosh, Toronto Raptors
    • Kirk Hinrich, Chicago Bulls
  • All-Rookie Second Team:
    • Udonis Haslem, Miami Heat
    • Marquis Daniels, Dallas Mavericks
    • Jarvis Hayes, Washington Wizards
    • Josh Howard, Dallas Mavericks
    • T. J. Ford, Milwaukee Bucks

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