Top 5 Rivals in Lakers History

Next: Detroit Pistons

AUBURN HILLS, MI - JUNE 13:  Chauncey Billups #1 of the Detroit Pistons reacts in Game four of the 2004 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers at The Palace of Auburn Hills on June 13, 2004 in Auburn Hills, Michigan.  The Pistons won 88-80.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

#3.  Detroit Pistons

The “Bad Boys” versus “Showtime”.  It might have only been two years in a row facing off against each other in the NBA Finals (’88 & ’89), but that’s all it took when you paired up two of the game’s best guards, and a nasty defensive squad against a very fanciful offense.

It took seven games for the Lakers to fend off a vigorous Detroit Pistons team led by Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Bill Laimbeer, Rick Mahorn, Dennis Rodman, and yes…John Salley.

The hard fought series left Thomas limping in Game 6 after suffering a sprained ankle.  He almost led his team to a finals victory with one second left until Abdul-Jabbar was sent to the line by Laimbeer to sink the game winning free throws for a 103-102 victory.

The Lakers would go on to capture their fifth NBA title of the decade, with another close game seven victory.

The Lakers attempted the “three-peat” the following season as they reached the NBA Finals in 1989 and once gain faced the Pistons.  This time, Detroit managed to accomplish a very successful year under coach Chuck Daly with an impressive 63-19 league leading record.

They swept through the Celtics, swept through the Bucks, and defeated Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in six games in the Easter Conference Finals.  The Lakers however were still favored to three-peat as champions, but hamstring injuries to their MVP Magic Johnson and star shooting guard Byron Scott, handicapped the team and paved the way for a sweep by the Pistons and a first ever Detroit NBA championship.

15 years later, the Lakers and Pistons once again squared off in the NBA Finals.  The All-Star cast of Karl Malone, Gary Payton, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kobe Bryant proved to be too imperfect to win a 15th world title.  A three-point, game tying shot by Kobe Bryant to send Game 2 into overtime (and an eventual victory) was the only Lakers series highlight.  Larry Brown’s squad of Chauncey Billups and Rasheed Wallace went on to lead the Pistons to their third NBA title.

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