Who’s next on the list for the best championship teams in Lakers history?
Our fourth installment of our greatest Laker title teams brings us to two dynasties about 20 years apart.
Already gone off the list at are all of the Minneapolis Lakers (1948-49, 1949-50, 1951-52, 1952-53, 1953-54) and the 2009-10 Lakers of LA.
The next two teams on the list made mincemeat of their conference counterparts before disposing of the best the East had to offer and hold up the Larry O’Brien trophy.
10.) 2001-02: The Cementation of a Dynasty
The 2001-02 Lakers were the third and final championship team of their three-peat. The Lakers however that year finished second in the Pacific Division with a 58-24 record, while their NorCal rivals the Sacramento Kings won the division with a 61-21 record.
The team was heavily led by Shaquille O’Neal (near right) and Kobe Bryant (far right). O’Neal averaged 27.2 points, 10.7 rebounds and 2 blocks while Bryant averaged 25.2 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists.
That season O’Neal finished second in scoring and Bryant finished sixth. Both players were named to the All-NBA First Team.
The first few playoff series were a walk in the park as they stomped the Portland Trail Blazers 3-0 in the first round and in the Western Conference Semifinals they took down the surprisingly flat San Antonio Spurs 4-1.
The Western Conference Finals, a showdown between the one-seeded Kings and Lakers was an instant classic. The Lakers were down 2-1 in the series and it appeared that they were going to lose game four as they were down 99-97 with less than seconds to play.
Bryant attacked the basket and missed a runner, O’Neal then missed a put back and the ball was tipped out by Kings center Vlade Divac.
Robert Horry was standing in the middle of the three-point line and drilled it from downtown at the buzzer to even the series at 2-2. The Lakers won two of the final three games, winning in seven.
After an incredibly grueling series with Sacramento that was pretty much the Finals, the Lakers cold-cocked the overmatched New Jersey Nets in a four-game thrashing.
O’Neal won the Finals MVP as he averaged 36.3 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks, cementing himself as the most dominant big man of his generation.
9. 1981-82: The Birth Of Showtime
It wasn’t the prettiest of starts to the season for the Lakers. Head coach Paul Westhead was fired after it was reported that he told Magic Johnson to “shut up” after Johnson attempted to offer input on the game.
The next day Westhead was let go of and they brought in Pat Riley.
The move ended up paying off as Riley improved the Lakers’ offense instantly. The Lakers ended up going 57-25 on the season, earning the top seed in the Western Conference. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (left) averaged 23.9 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.7 blocks.
Jamaal Wilkes averaged 21.1 points and Johnson averaged 18.6 points, 9.6 rebounds and 9.5 assists.
The Lakers had a first round bye in the playoffs and promptly disposed of the Phoenix Suns 4-0. The Spurs fared no better in Western Conference Finals as the newfound “Showtime” Lakers broomed them 4-0.
The Lakers went on to beat the Julius Erving-led Philadelphia 76ers 4-2 in the NBA Finals.
Johnson was named the NBA Finals MVP, his second such honor after winning his first one at the expense of Philadelphia when he was a rookie.