The Lakers were up three games to two in the series heading into Game 6, but ended up losing the game and ultimately their season. The Kings have since been considered one of the greatest teams ever assembled due to their ability to put a team on par with any other Western Conference squad for a prolonged period of time. With that said, it’s interesting how this particular game came about and what has happened since then.
The “2002 Western Conference Finals between the Lakers and Kings” is a game that has been controversial for years. In the 2002 Western Conference Finals, the Lakers were up 3-2 in games when they played against the Kings. The game was then rigged by referees to ensure that the Kings would win.
The basketball world had effectively moved on from Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls and their supremacy in the 1990s when the new century arrived.
The Los Angeles Lakers, headed by Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, and former Bulls coach Phil Jackson, dominated the NBA by winning three championships in a row. This is the first time in NBA history that a team has achieved a three-peat.
But what if I told you that this extraordinary three-peat was on the verge of happening? What if I told you it wasn’t supposed to happen?
The Lakers maintained their dominance in the league in 2002, courtesy to a “controversy.”
Table of Contents
- 1 The Los Angeles Lakers, who have won back-to-back championships, will face the Sacramento Kings.
- 2 The Debate Over Game 6
- 2.1 Next
- 2.2 Comparison of Kobe Bryant vs. Tim Duncan: Who Had The Better Career?
- 2.3 The Top 10 Shooting Guards In The NBA In The 1990s
- 2.4 Michael Jordan’s Team vs. Magic Johnson’s Team: The Greatest Game Ever, And Nobody Saw It
- 2.5 In 1994, David Robinson becomes the fourth and last player in NBA history to record a quadruple-double.
- 2.6 Tiers with the most points per game in a single season: Wilt Chamberlain’s 50.4 points per game (PPG) is untouchable.
The Los Angeles Lakers, who have won back-to-back championships, will face the Sacramento Kings.
By the start of the 2001-02 season, the Los Angeles Lakers had won two consecutive championships. Of course, the Lakers were the overwhelming favorites to win the title that season.
One squad stood out above the others throughout the regular season, according to the results. This one squad exemplified the genuine meaning of team basketball, and they seemed to be powerful at every position.
People were surprised to learn that the club that stood out from the others wasn’t the Lakers, but rather the Sacramento Kings.
With a 61-21 record in 2001-02, the Kings were the best team in the league. The Lakers, on the other side, finished third in the Western Conference with a 58-24 record.
When the playoffs arrived, the Lakers and Kings dominated the first two rounds, losing just three games in all.
Then came the Western Conference Finals showdown that everyone was looking forward to: the Lakers vs. the Kings.
The NBA champions, according to most observers, would be whomever won this series. This was the Kings’ year to shine and get over the hump, they thought.
It seemed like they were correct after the first five games of the series. The Kings were up 3-2 in the series heading into Game 6 in Los Angeles.
The Kings were optimistic about their prospects in Game 6 in Los Angeles. They had previously won the third game in Los Angeles. The Kings came within one point of winning Game 4 on a Robert Horry buzzer-beating three-pointer.
Shaq and Kobe, the Lakers’ top two players, both missed game-winning jumpers, but Vlade Divac, the Kings’ center, slapped the rebound away, and it landed up in Horry’s hands for the game-winner.
Divac remarked of Horry’s game-winning shot, “Anybody could have made that shot.” “It was just a fortunate shot.”
Horry expressed his displeasure at Divac’s remarks by saying:
“It wasn’t a chance shot.” That’s something I’ve done for the most of my professional life. He should be aware of the situation. He should read anything in the newspaper.”
This back-and-forth served to define the rivalry between these two teams in the early 2000s, and the Kings were hoping to win this time.
The Debate Over Game 6
The Lakers and Kings fought it out in the first half of Game 6 like they have throughout the series. The Kings were up 56-51 at halftime, and they were feeling good about themselves.
The Kings surrendered their halftime lead in the third quarter, but held on to be tied with the Lakers.
Going into the fourth quarter, the score was 75-75, and the Kings had a legitimate opportunity to win the game and knock the Lakers out of the playoffs. Then came the fourth quarter.
The rumor of a disagreement started in the fourth quarter. The quantity of foul shots attempted by the Lakers led many spectators, particularly Kings supporters, to suspect the NBA fixed the game.
The Lakers averaged roughly 25 free throw attempts per game after the first five games of the series. The Lakers tried 27 free throws in the fourth quarter of Game 6 and made 21 of them.
The Kings only attempted nine free throws in the quarter, hitting seven of them. The idea that the Lakers attempted 18 more free throws in the fourth quarter is mind-boggling.
The Lakers won the game 106-102 to force a Game 7 against the Kings in Sacramento, where they defeated the Kings and went on to capture their third championship by sweeping the New Jersey Nets.
The Kings’ franchise was forever transformed after Game 6. Since then, they haven’t exactly replicated their early-2000s success, and it’s not just fans who believe the game is rigged.
Tim Donaghy, a former NBA referee who was caught wagering on games while officiating, had this to say about Game 6:
“Sacramento had the league’s top team. The superior squad, however, was denied victory by the officials and the league.”
Donaghy also had this to say about Dick Bavetta, one of the officials who oversaw Game 6:
“He told many of us that he was the NBA’s go-to person on multiple occasions. He was placed on Game 6s in order to provoke a Game 7 match. I have no question in my opinion, or in the minds of many others on the inside of the NBA, that they gave the Lakers the benefit of multiple calls in that game, believing it was just going to a Game 7 and Sacramento was just going to a Game 7 and Sacramento was going to win on their home court. The Lakers triumph. They win the title, which is a shame for Sacramento since they deserved to put a ring on their finger.”
Many NBA players believe Donaghy is fabricating the story to protect himself from his gambling problems. But Donaghy isn’t the only one who thinks Game 6 wasn’t quite right.
Grant Napear, the play-by-play commentator for the Sacramento Kings, remarked, “I feel it was the worst officiated game in NBA history.”
When it came to Game 6, ESPN’s Bill Simmons had this to say about it:
“The most one-sided game in the last decade in terms of officiating.”
So, what are your thoughts? Is it possible that the NBA rigged Game 6 to increase the number of viewers for Game 7? Was it the league’s intention for the Lakers to repeat as champions? Or did the Kings suffocate the series and their championship chances?
We’ll never know for sure, but it’s always a fascinating issue to debate when discussing the NBA’s history.
Comparison of Kobe Bryant vs. Tim Duncan: Who Had The Better Career?
The Top 10 Shooting Guards In The NBA In The 1990s
Michael Jordan’s Team vs. Magic Johnson’s Team: The Greatest Game Ever, And Nobody Saw It
In 1994, David Robinson becomes the fourth and last player in NBA history to record a quadruple-double.
Tiers with the most points per game in a single season: Wilt Chamberlain’s 50.4 points per game (PPG) is untouchable.
The “lakers vs kings 2002 game 6 rigged” was a game in the Western Conference Finals between the Lakers and Kings. The controversy that followed after this game has been talked about for years.
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