2001 Season Recap
Lakers' Success Ruins Philadelphia's Story
If the L.A. Lakers had not gone on a 15-1 run in the playoffs en route to a five-game NBA Finals victory over the Philadelphia 76ers to win their second straight NBA championship, the 2000-01 NBA season might have been all about the 76ers.
Philadelphia began the season by winning its first 10 games and made it clear that its distracting coach-vs-star bickering was a thing of the past. The 76ers' final roster included the league MVP (Allen Iverson), coach of the year (Larry Brown), sixth-player award winner (Aaron McKie) and the defensive player of the year (Dikembe Mutombo).
But all that and an Eastern Conference-best 56-26 record couldn't get them past the mighty L.A. Lakers.
Nobody was talking about a Lakers repeat in January. Team superstars Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal were feuding through the media, and after a 23-point loss to the Clippers, the team's uncertain future seemed to be resting on the shoulders of coach Phil Jackson. Jackson aligned his stars, so to speak, and the Lakers went on a 25-10 post-All-Star-Game tear. L.A. won it's last eight regular-season games before sweeping through Portland, Sacramento and San Antonio in the playoffs.
The Lakers are officially a dynasty once again.
Not all of the year's NBA action was restricted to the court. The year was dominated by rumors of Wizards president Michael Jordan's return. Those rumors were confirmed in September when MJ announced he'd return to play for his Wizards.
The 5-year-old Vancouver Grizzlies were given permission to relocate to Memphis, Tenn., becoming the first NBA team to move cities since 1985.
The 2001 NBA draft saw three of the first four teams select high school players, including Washington's top selection overall—Kwame Brown. And the days before and after the draft saw a flurry of trades that resulted in new teams for Shareef Abdur-Rahim (Hawks), Elton Brand (Clippers) and Jason Kidd (Nets).
In the WNBA, regular season and finals MVP Lisa Leslie ended Houston's four-year streak of league championships by leading the L.A. Sparks past Charlotte in the WNBA Finals.