L.A.'s greatest sports moments, No. 18: Lakers three-peat
We asked you to send in your picks for the greatest sports moments in L.A. history, and 1,181 ballots later we are unveiling the top 20 vote-getters. Each weekday (with one day off for Thanksgiving), we will unveil a new moment until we reach No. 1.
No. 18: Lakers three-peat (9 first-place votes, 2,475 points)
After the Lakers won their second straight championship in 1988, Coach Pat Riley trademarked the term “three-peat.” He was hoping, of course, that his ’88-89 Lakers would capture a third consecutive title. But the Detroit Pistons, as well as hamstring injuries to Magic Johnson and Byron Scott, made sure that didn’t happen.
The Lakers didn’t get another shot at a three-peat until 2002 and that time they made it happen, sweeping the New Jersey Nets in the Finals in what turned out to be the last championship for Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant as teammates. It was the Lakers’ only Finals sweep among their 11 titles in Los Angeles.
While the Nets were the Finals opponent, it was the Sacramento Kings who proved to be the Lakers’ most difficult obstacle.
In a classic Western Conference finals series between the teams with the two best records during the regular season, the Lakers won in seven games. The decisive game in Sacramento went to overtime, and the Lakers prevailed, 112-106.
The Finals against the Nets proved anticlimactic. The Lakers were only really challenged in Game 3, a three-point win, and won the title with a 113-107 victory in New Jersey on June 12. O’Neal was the most valuable player of the series.
What the series lacked in drama it made up for in history as the Lakers joined the Minneapolis Lakers, Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls as the only NBA teams to three-peat.
-- Hans Tesselaar
Photo: The Lakers celebrate their third consecutive NBA title after defeating the New Jersey Nets in 2002. Credit: Los Angeles Times