James claims '03 was best draft

STEVE BUFFERY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:50 AM ET

LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers is big on the history of the NBA, and he certainly has an opinion on the best draft ever.

James said it was the year he was drafted -- 2003.

"We definitely have enough guys in the 2003 draft that would be better than the '84 group, or the '95 group," James said last night, prior to the Cavaliers game against the Raptors at the Air Canada Centre. "We want to live (up to it). We know we have a standard to live by."

The 2003 draft went as following: James (1st), Darko Milicic (2nd), Carmelo Anthony (3rd), Chris Bosh (4th), Dwyane Wade (5th), Chris Kaman (6th), Kirk Hinrich (7th), T.J. Ford (8th). The top five, with the exception of Milicic, are all-stars.

The 1995 drafted included: Jerry Stackhouse (3rd), Rasheed Wallace (4th), Kevin Garnett (5th), and Michael Finley (21st).

The 1984 class included: Hakeem Olajuwon (1st), Michael Jordan (3rd), Charles Barkley (5th) and John Stockton (16th).

James said he has stayed on top of how Bosh has come into his own in Toronto.

"He's the reason why this team is playing the way it is right now and why they've improved," James said. "Everyone that has got drafted in the 2003 draft their team has improved rapidly and Chris Bosh has definitely done a great job being the No. 1 man here and he has put that team on his back."

James is averaging 26.4 points this season, down from 31.4 last season. But Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell said that whether his numbers have dipped or not, James still causes huge problems for the opposition.

"I'll take the 27 and the 47% (from the field)," he said. "I'm not greedy. Go look at the stats. Count how many guys playing on the perimeter, shooting 47% or better from the field. I would need my head examined to stand here and try to criticize LeBron's game."

NATIONAL TEAM NEWS

Canada Basketball confirmed yesterday that Cleveland Cavaliers assistant coach Michael Malone will join head coach and Raptors analyst Leo Rautins on the senior men's national team coaching staff. Malone is in his second season with the Cavaliers after spending the previous two seasons with the New York Knicks. Canada plays its first game of the 2007 season July 25 at the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro and concludes its season at the FIBA Americas Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Las Vegas Aug. 22 to Sept. 2.

AROUND THE RIM

Former Raptor Jerome Williams will meet with students from Oakwood Collegiate tomorrow as part of the club's Read to Achieve program, and to celebrate Black History Month ... Fred Jones was placed on the active list and Uros Slokar taken off.


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