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Lakers History: Dominant Finale Seals 15-1 Postseason, Back-to-Back Titles
Three Western Conference teams stood in the Lakers’ path to the NBA Finals, and all three were swept away without any hesitation.
Then came Allen Iverson.
With a legendary 48-point performance, Philadelphia’s superstar socked the Lakers in the jaw with a Game 1 victory in a stunned STAPLES Center.
From there, the Lakers had enough. After ripping off three straight wins, they entered Game 5 with the opportunity to finish an unprecedented playoff run.
The most dominant player in the game led the charge, as Shaquille O’Neal bulldozed the Sixers with 29 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks.
The 76ers thought that Defensive Player of the Year Dikembe Mutombo could stop O’Neal. They were wrong.
A 7-foot-1, 330-pound Goliath made the future Hall of Famer look like a toddler.
This was O’Neal at his most dominant, averaging 33.0 points, 15.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 3.4 blocks en route to Finals MVP honors.
But O’Neal was far from the only player to feast on the Sixers, as the self-dubbed “Super Friends” group of role players stepped up.
Rick Fox scored 20 points (including on an unintentional 3-pointer that was supposed to be a lob). Derek Fisher added 18, all on six 3’s.
But nobody enjoyed tormenting the Sixers’ crowd like Philly native Kobe Bryant, who fulfilled his promise to “cut their hearts out.”
With 26 points, 12 rebounds and six assists, the three-time All-Star visibly relished in his team’s dismantling of the home club.
While Iverson did put up 37 points, the Lakers received little resistance down the stretch. After dispatching the Sixers, 108-96, they held their trophy ceremony in the arena’s old weight room, away from the Philadelphia fans.
It may have been a regular season of turmoil — with the rift between O’Neal and Bryant just opening up — but it was a postseason of legend.
The Lakers finished the playoffs with a 15-1 record, which remains the fewest losses a team has ever conceded on the way to the title.
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