SI Flashback: NBA Finals
2001: LAKERS OVER 76ers 4-1
Finals MVP: Shaquille O'Neal, Lakers
The Lakers steamrolled through the playoffs, going 15-1, and captured their second consecutive NBA championship.
Snapshot from Double Dip
By Phil Taylor
Domination: The Lakers wrapped up their second straight NBA title with the closest thing to a perfect postseason the league has ever known, largely because they made a series of similarly deft transitions. They went back and forth during the playoffs, from O'Neal's team to Bryant's and from Bryant's to O'Neal's, without missing a beat -- and nearly without being beaten. The 108-96 victory over the noble but overmatched Sixers in Game 5, which wrapped up the championship, was L.A.'s 23rd in 24 games dating back to the regular season, and only Philadelphia's overtime win in Game 1 at the Staples Center kept the Lakers from becoming the first champion to complete an undefeated postseason.
| June 25,
2001 Walter Iooss Jr.|
Man in the middle: O'Neal, who averaged 33.0 points, 15.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists in the series, laid waste to the 76ers when they didn't double-team him -- Philadelphia center Dikembe Mutombo took more shots to the jaw, courtesy of Shaq, than a bad prizefighter -- and passed beautifully out of the pivot when they did. With a pair of championship rings at age 29, O'Neal has the jewelry, the longevity and the talent to join Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the shortlist of the greatest centers of all time. "I have never seen a better player," says Larry Brown, Philly's 61-year-old coach.
Said It |
""It's especially satisfying to know that we didn't just win, we dominated."
" Rick Fox |
Team effort: The less-celebrated Lakers, particularly Fox, guard Derek Fisher and forward Robert Horry, took turns demoralizing Philadelphia with three-pointers, and L.A.'s underrated defense made certain that Iverson, who shot only 40.7% in the series, rarely had a view of the basket that wasn't obstructed by at least one outstretched hand.
Issue date: June 25, 2001