Judge Ryan Keefer wonders if greatness can be achieved in three years.
Class is in session.
As sports fans, we have a tendency to analyze everything. Success is determined by individual and team achievements, and we rate those individuals and their teams accordingly. When we get bored about talking about the players and their teams, we switch over to figuring out what year had the best bumper crop of talent, and who used it best. So, enter Volume Four of the NBA Street Series which, aside from the not-so-subtle coincidence of being released within the week of the league's All-Star game, seems to make the assertion that the draft class of 2003 has quickly become one of the better classes in NBA history.
Hosted by Chris Brown (who I thought played third base for the Giants in the mid '80s, but as it turns out is some "platinum recording artist"), the feature focuses on some of the players that the league's teams chose to help shape their futures. Most of the feature is centered on many of the top players that were picked in the draft. LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Chris Kaman and Kirk Hinrich are given time in their segments, with more obvious time given to James, Wade and Anthony. And while some of them are given a little bit more focus than others, the supporting guys get some publicity too. Eighth pick (out of 58) T.J. Ford talks about his time in the league, including a scary injury where his spinal cord was bruised in his rookie year. Other guys like Nick Collison (picked 12th), David West and Josh Howard are featured, and Luke Walton is the lowest pick (32nd) to get some screen time on the disc. Even the international players like Brazil's Leandro Barbosa, Serbia's Darko Milicic and France's Mickael Pietrus and Boris Diaw (also 2003 draftees) are given some time to highlight the NBA's world "flava," if you will. If I can be allowed to go off on a brief tangent for a second, Warner has a tendency to list the runtime of the disc inclusive of the bonus features. This particular feature is just shy of an hour in length, but the additional features are an additional 30 or 40 minutes. Come on, can we not pad things here? Oh, and I guess the other reason why Anthony was suspended for 15 games for his part in an on-court fight was the realization he was a large part of this disc.
The other thing that is worthwhile and starts a good debate is a look at the draft class of 1996. That class features All-Stars like Jermaine O'Neal and Ray Allen, two Most Valuable Players in Steve Nash and Allen Iverson, and rapidly rising legend Kobe Bryant. Not to distract from the topic even further, the draft class of 1984, the class that the league looks to as perhaps the best class in history, includes four of the league's 50 greatest players in Hakeem Olajuwon (picked 1st), Michael Jordan (picked 3rd), Charles Barkley (picked 5th) and John Stockton (picked 16th), not to mention a perfectly serviceable veteran player, Sam Perkins. So if history tells us anything, it's that we should probably wait another several years before we say that this draft class has any sort of royalty attached to it. One championship ring from Wade doesn't put this in the same orbit quite yet.
While the NBA does put together a somewhat convincing draft class for 2003, and the disc isn't too shabby, it's just nothing more than an hour-long highlight reel for the players that came out in the draft. The debate over which draft class is better is a helluva more entertaining than the disc itself.
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