Moment #4: The 2001 Lakers make a historic run
Fresh off of the heels of their return to glory the 2001 Lakers certainly made their title defense interesting. A new and improved Kobe Bryant came to the Lakers this season, with his improved game Bryant wanted a larger role, leading to the rebirth of Kobe vs Shaq.
Throughout the regular season the Lakers struggled to juggle the drama and the prospect of teams gunning for the champs and the team got off to a very pedestrian start. Jackson eventually got Bryant and O’Neal to come together and the Lakers won their final eight games heading into the playoffs.
The Lakers winning streak had just begun as the competitive Western Conference was about to fall victim to a historic run. The run began against rival Portland, who had taken the Lakers to the brink of elimination a year before in the conference finals. The Lakers swept them with ease.
Next was the up and coming Sacramento Kings, who had also taken the champs to the brink of elimination a year before. Though two of the games were close the Lakers ultimately swept the young Kings.
Finally, in the conference finals the Lakers took on the previous champs before them, the San Antonio Spurs. Many came into the series thinking that the Spurs twin towers of Duncan and Robinson could defeat the Lakers; but it turned out they were no match for the Lakers.
O’Neal and especially Bryant, who put up some mind boggling stats in this series, swept the Spurs in dominant fashion. The Lakers had reached the Finals, with an opportunity to make history as the only team in history to run the table in the playoffs.
The Lakers were stunned by league MVP Allen Iverson in Game 1 of the Finals, then the champs went on to win four in a row in order to successfully defend their title. Although this team did not go 15-0 in the playoffs, the playoff run by Jackson and his Lakers will truly go down in history.
Moment #3: Big Shot Bob strikes again
The following season the Lakers were looking to become the first Lakers team in history to win three consecutive titles, this was no easy feat though as the same Kings team the Lakers had swept a year before seemed poised to take the Lakers title.
The Kings finished with the best record in the NBA this season and met the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. The Kings took a 2-1 series lead and the Lakers had a seemingly must-win game on their hands in the fourth game.
This game turned ugly for the Lakers as the Kings dominated the game, leading the game by as much as 24 at one point. Like most champions do, the Lakers fought back.
The Lakers soon only trailed by two points with 11 seconds left. Kobe then drove to the hoop and missed, Shaq also missed a put back and the ball was slapped away by Vlade Divac. Unfortunately for the Kings the ball landed in the hands of the man we know as Big Shot Bob, you know the rest of the story.
Horry’s buzzer beater kept the Lakers alive and the Lakers eventually defeated the Kings in seven games on their way to a third consecutive championship. As for the Kings, they never came so close again and are now ultimately struggling to stay in Sacramento.
Who knows what the fate of these two franchises would be if it weren’t for Robert Horry.
Next: The top Two moments of the Phil Jackson era.
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