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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. This would be Michael Jordan's last season in the NBA (National Basketball Association).

2002–03 NBA season
League National Basketball Association
Sport Basketball
Duration October 29, 2002 – April 16, 2003
April 19 – May 29, 2003 (Playoffs)
June 4 – 15, 2003 (Finals)
Number of teams 29
TV partner(s) ABC, TNT, ESPN, NBA TV
Top draft pick Yao Ming
Picked by Houston Rockets
Regular season
Top seed San Antonio Spurs
Season MVP Tim Duncan (San Antonio)
Top scorer Tracy McGrady (Orlando)
Eastern champions New Jersey Nets
  Eastern runners-up Detroit Pistons
Western champions San Antonio Spurs
  Western runners-up Dallas Mavericks
Champions San Antonio Spurs
  Runners-up New Jersey Nets
Finals MVP Tim Duncan (San Antonio)
NBA seasons


Notable occurrencesEdit

Coaching changes
Team 2001–02 coach 2002–03 coach
Denver Nuggets Mike Evans Jeff Bzdelik
Golden State Warriors Brian Winters Eric Musselman
Team Outgoing coach Incoming coach
Atlanta Hawks Lon Kruger Terry Stotts
Cleveland Cavaliers John Lucas Keith Smart
Los Angeles Clippers Alvin Gentry Dennis Johnson
Memphis Grizzlies Sidney Lowe Hubie Brown
  • The Hornets relocate from Charlotte, North Carolina to New Orleans, Louisiana, leaving Charlotte without an NBA team until the Charlotte Bobcats (who would rename themselves the Hornets in 2014 following the New Orleans franchise's rebrand as the Pelicans the year before) were formed 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 for two seasons. Twelve years later, revised records between the two teams suggest that the Charlotte NBA franchise suspended operations following the original team's relocation to New Orleans, thereby theating the 2002-03 season as an establishing year for the New Orleans franchise.
  • In their New Orleans debut (Oct. 30, 2002) against the city's former occupants, the Utah Jazz, the Hornets posthumously retired Pete Maravich's No. 7, even though he never played for the team, but was honored for his basketball contributions to the city.
  • 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. 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 (until 2012), and the last time a rookie played (until 2011) 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 of the Los Angeles Lakers scored 45 points against the Seattle SuperSonics. 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 and broken by Stephen Curry.
  • 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 died on August 5 from a head injury caused by a fall. The Lakers also sport a black patch in his honor.
  • 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.
  • David Robinson announced his retirement. He would eventually go on to win the championship with the Spurs.
  • The elimination of Utah Jazz in the first round of the playoffs marks the end of 18 year Karl MaloneJohn Stockton tandem. Stockton would go on to retire, while Malone would play with the Lakers next season before retiring in mid-2004.


By divisionEdit

By conferenceEdit


  • 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.

  First Round Conference Semifinals Conference Finals NBA Finals
E1 Detroit* 4  
E8 Orlando 3  
  E1 Detroit* 4  
  E4 Philadelphia 2  
E4 Philadelphia 4
E5 New Orleans 2  
  E1 Detroit* 0  
Eastern Conference
  E2 New Jersey* 4  
E3 Indiana 2  
E6 Boston 4  
  E6 Boston 0
  E2 New Jersey* 4  
E2 New Jersey* 4
E7 Milwaukee 2  
  E2 New Jersey* 2
  W1 San Antonio* 4
W1 San Antonio* 4  
W8 Phoenix 2  
  W1 San Antonio* 4
  W5 LA Lakers 2  
W4 Minnesota 2
W5 LA Lakers 4  
  W1 San Antonio* 4
Western Conference
  W3 Dallas 2  
W3 Dallas 4  
W6 Portland 3  
  W3 Dallas 4
  W2 Sacramento* 3  
W2 Sacramento* 4
W7 Utah 1  

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

Statistics leadersEdit

Category Player Team Stat
Points per game Tracy McGrady Orlando Magic 32.1
Rebounds per game Ben Wallace Detroit Pistons 15.5
Assists per game Jason Kidd New Jersey Nets 9.0
Steals per game Allen Iverson Philadelphia 76ers 2.74
Blocks per game Theo Ratliff Atlanta Hawks 3.23
FG% Eddy Curry Chicago Bulls .585
FT% Allan Houston New York Knicks .919
3FG% Bruce Bowen San Antonio Spurs .441


Yearly awardsEdit

Players of the monthEdit

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

Month Eastern Conference Western Conference
1October – November McGrady, TracyTracy McGrady (Orlando Magic) (1/2) Finley, MichaelMichael Finley (Dallas Mavericks) (1/1)
Nash, SteveSteve Nash (Dallas Mavericks) (1/1)
Nowitzki, DirkDirk Nowitzki (Dallas Mavericks) (1/1)
2December Kidd, JasonJason Kidd (New Jersey Nets) (1/1) Webber, ChrisChris Webber (Sacramento Kings) (1/1)
3January O'Neal, JermaineJermaine O'Neal (Indiana Pacers) (1/1) Bryant, KobeKobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers) (1/1)
4February Mashburn, JamalJamal Mashburn (New Orleans Hornets) (1/1) Garnett, KevinKevin Garnett (Minnesota Timberwolves) (1/2)
5March McGrady, TracyTracy McGrady (Orlando Magic) (2/2) O'Neal, ShaquilleShaquille O'Neal (Los Angeles Lakers) (1/1)
6April Magloire, JamaalJamaal Magloire (New Orleans Hornets) (1/1) Garnett, KevinKevin Garnett (Minnesota Timberwolves) (2/2)

Rookies of the monthEdit

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

Month Eastern Conference Western Conference
1October – November Butler, CaronCaron Butler (Miami Heat) (1/4) Gooden, DrewDrew Gooden (Memphis Grizzlies) (1/1)
2December Williams, JayJay Williams (Chicago Bulls) (1/1) Yao Ming (Houston Rockets) (1/2)
3January Butler, CaronCaron Butler (Miami Heat) (2/4) Stoudemire, Amar'eAmar'e Stoudemire (Phoenix Suns) (1/2)
4February Butler, CaronCaron Butler (Miami Heat) (3/4) Yao Ming (Houston Rockets) (2/2)
5March Butler, CaronCaron Butler (Miami Heat) (4/4) Ginóbili, ManuManu Ginóbili (San Antonio Spurs) (1/1)
6April Boozer, CarlosCarlos Boozer (Cleveland Cavaliers) (1/1) Stoudemire, Amar'eAmar'e Stoudemire (Phoenix Suns) (2/2)

Coaches of the monthEdit

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

Month Eastern Conference Western Conference
1October – November Thomas, IsiahIsiah Thomas (Indiana Pacers) (1/1) Nelson, DonDon Nelson (Dallas Mavericks) (1/1)
2December Scott, ByronByron Scott (New Jersey Nets) (1/1) Johnson, FrankFrank Johnson (Phoenix Suns) (1/1)
3January Karl, GeorgeGeorge Karl (Milwaukee Bucks) (1/1) Popovich, GreggGregg Popovich (San Antonio Spurs) (1/2)
4February Brown, LarryLarry Brown (Philadelphia 76ers) (1/2) Saunders, FlipFlip Saunders (Minnesota Timberwolves) (1/1)
5March Brown, LarryLarry Brown (Philadelphia 76ers) (2/2) Popovich, GreggGregg Popovich (San Antonio Spurs) (2/2)
5April Silas, PaulPaul Silas (New Orleans Hornets) (1/1) Jackson, PhilPhil Jackson (Los Angeles Lakers) (1/1)