Los Angeles Lakers

The 2000-01 Los Angeles Lakers And The Most Dominant Playoff Run In The History Of Life

When one hears about the current Lakers, present-day, they’re a punch-line, which is hard to say about a team with 17 world championships. However, they’re coming off of a humbling, hilarious, and hideous four-game sweep at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks in last season’s playoffs and they compensate for their loss by trading away one of the pieces to what has made (in my opinion) the last TEN Laker championships so dominant by moving a versatile frontcourt player, in Lamar Odom.

Now by saying that, the idea is that you don’t move what is a tried-and-true player in a tried-and-true championship formula in the NBA. When a team has a dominant frontcourt in the NBA, they’re in a great position to win a championship. When a team doesn’t, they don’t have a chance in hell.

With this move, the Lakers are on edge, but there was a time, 11 years ago, when the Los Angeles Lakers had the blend of monstrous frontcourt, fearsome backcourt, experienced bench and a championship coaching staff. The Los Angeles Lakers won five championships last decade, but it is the second, the one that came in the 2000-01 season, especially their postseason run, that sticks out. Simply put, the postseason run the Lakers went on is, to this day, the most terrifying and dominant playoff run these two eyes have ever seen.

It started off with a non-descript opening round series against the Portland Trailblazers, a team that was still (somewhat) strong with a decent frontline, good guard play and an experienced coach in Mike Dunleavy. Despite Portland having Young ‘Sheed, Arvydas Sabonis, Rod Strickland, Scottie Pippen and others, the Lakers beat the crap out of them quickly, swept them from the playoffs and set their sights on the Sacramento Kings.

The Kings were a team on the rise, with The Great Chris Webber, Vlade Divac, Peja, Doug Christie, OG Bobby Jackson and more. Rick Adelman was on the sideline, a man who had seen plenty of playoff wars. At the time, the most people could really shoot for was a competitive series. They wanted to see some good basketball and maybe, just maybe, the Kings would make the Lakers sweat. They had Chris Webber, a player who was absolutely unstoppable. Doug Christie was an All NBA-caliber defender. Vlade was tricky around the basket and, simply, a crafty basketball player, and the bench to make it fun.

The Lakers beat the tar out of them in four games, put them out of their misery and set their sights next on the San Antonio Spurs.

It wasn’t so much that the Lakers swept the Blazers and Kings but, more so, how did they did it. These teams, clearly, did not belong on the same court as the Lake Show. Shaquille O’Neal was in his prime and his best to lead the Lakers in the first round and let the Blazers know there would be absolutely no semblance of the previous year’s Western Conference Finals in this year’s opening round. As for the Kings? Well, the Lakers made them look like the youngsters (team-wise, because they did have vets in C-Webb and Vlade) that they were. Surely, the Spurs wouldn’t resemble the previous two match-ups.

For starters, the Spurs had home court, thanks to a great regular season and the boredom that has come to classify the regular season that encompasses Los Angeles Lakers basketball. The Big Aristotle, Kobe, Brian Shaw, Horace Grant and other veterans who were on championship teams had to feel like the regular season was just that: the regular season. Simply put, they played well enough to be in position to have home court when they needed it, and if they didn’t, they would just take it from their opponent…

…and my God, that’s what they did against San Antonio, and it started early.

A San Antonio Spurs team, a proud Spurs team, a championship and legend-laden team with David Robinson and soon-to-be legend Tim Duncan, a team with Gregg Popovich on the sideline, was embarrassed within an inch of their lives by the Lakers, led by the coming-out party of Afro Kobe Bryant.

To this day, there are memories of Afro Kobe soaring to the rim with two hands and jammin’ on The Admiral AND The Big Fundamental. Shaq was Shaq and the bench played well, but Afro Kobe was, by far, the biggest difference in that series.

Derek Anderson, God bless him, didn’t have a chance in life against Afro Kobe. Sean Elliott tried with all his might, but he physically wasn’t able to do anything with Afro Kobe, and even if he was in the best shape of his life, Afro Kobe still would have killed him. In this particular series, Afro Kobe was at his best; he did it all, and led the Lakers to a sweep against the mighty Spurs. It gave them a chance to rest for damn near two weeks and watch the Eastern Finals to see how they would play out.

When the dust settled in the East, Allen Iverson and the Philadelphia 76ers were in the way of the Lakers and their quest to repeat. However, the Lakers weren’t just attempting to repeat. By playing 11 playoff games and winning all 11, the Lakers were seeking to complete a sweep of the entire playoffs. It was astounding, unreal and outright dominant. For someone whose favorite player is Allen Iverson and loves Dikembe Mutombo, due to the Hoya Destroya connection, this was going to be tough. They had the MVP, the Defensive Player of the Year, the Sixth Man of the Year (Aaron McKie) and the Coach of the Year, in Larry Brown. There was a part of me that believed the Sixers could do the impossible, and after Game One, the part of me became a significant section.

After the Game One defeat, the first defeat of the 2000-01 Lakers postseason, the Lakers went back to the drawing board, won not only Game Two, but they went on to win three road games, IN A ROW, to clinch the NBA Championship. Watching Shaquille O’Neal manhandle Dikembe Mutombo was saddening. Seeing Afro Kobe figure out the Sixers D and proceed to leave his mark was exasperating. Seeing Big Shot Rob destroy the Sixers in Game Four, essentially putting the series away by making it a 3-1 deficit, was gut-wrenching.

Everyone, from Devean George to Rick Fox, Ron Harper and Derek Fisher executed their roles to a T.

This Lakers team was balanced. This Lakers team was strong. This Lakers team was dominant, possessed two superstars, the right coach and a focus that can only be compared to very few championship teams in my lifetime. To this day, this version of the Los Angeles Lakers, and their playoff run, is the most dominant playoff team I have ever seen. There’s no doubt, debate or comparison.

Be easy.

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