Top 5 Rivals in Lakers History
March 16, 2010: Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers and Tyreke Evans of the Sacramento Kings during the game between the Sacramento Kings and the Los Angeles Lakers at Arco Arena in Sacramento, CA. Ben Munn/CSM.

#5.  Sacramento Kings

Sacramento will never be the capitol of California.  Los Angeles is the new capitol of California.”  – Shaquille O’Neal

You know you have a rivalry when The Rock composes a song about his dislike for Sacramento during WWE Raw and incorporated lyrics that read, “I’ll be sure to come back when the Lakers beat the Kings in May”.  Okay okay, maybe The Rock isn’t exactly the litmus test for judging rivalries, but who could argue with the intense match-ups the Lakers and Sacramento Kings put on during the last decade.

Although these two have met nine times in playoff history, it wasn’t until 2000 that this recent rivalry took form.  A series that should have been swept by an overpowering Lakers squad in 2000, turned into an emotional seven games at the hands of an eight seed underdog.  Inside of Arco Arena, the melodic sounds of cowbells that resonated throughout the series; outside of the arena – Laker jerseys up in flames by the Sacramento faithful.

That was off the court, on the court, the two teams put together some lasting memories.  The Lakers rolled through the Kings in four games in 2001 during the playoffs, but the 2002 Western Conference Finals is seen by many as one of the greatest series in NBA history.  A few moments to consider:

  • Robert Horry’s buzzer beating three-point shot to beat the Kings in game four.  One of the most famous shots in Lakers history!
  • A clutch shot by Mike Bibby with eight seconds left in Game 5 to propel the Kings to a one point victory.
  • A Game 6 that took the Lakers to the free throw line a controversial 27 times.  Infamous former NBA referee Tim Donaghy, later stated that referees during that game called fouls in favor of Los Angeles to throw the series into a Game 7 in the best interest of the league.
  • Game 7:  A neck and neck thriller that resulted in an overtime L.A. win in Sacramento.

Other notable moments occurred in a preseason match where only a few minutes into the first quarter, Kings guard Doug Christie and Rick Fox broke out into a fight on court, only to be separated and continue their brawl once again in the alley on the way to the locker rooms.

Finally, in December of 2005, a confident Kobe Bryant laughed off an obvious display of confrontation by Mike Bibby, as he walked right into Bryant on the way to the locker rooms.

Next: Philadelphia 76ers

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