Chris Webber Recalls the 2002 WCF Thriller Against Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal

Published 09/10/2021, 1:30 PM EDT


Lakers legends, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal are one of the most influential duos in NBA league history. The two shared on-court chemistry that led them to win a three-peat in the 2000s. A historic part of their dominance was the 2002 Western Conference Finals against Sacramento Kings.

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During the 2001-02 season, Los Angeles Lakers were double champions seeking their third consecutive title. Led by Bryant and O’Neal, the Lakers locked horns against the Kings in the conference finals that turned out to be one of the best playoff series.

The last four games of the heated series relied on the finals seconds to the buzzer. And Game 7 was an overtime victory for the Lakers, as they defeated Kings 4-3. The Kobe-Shaq duo was on their A-game, and they averaged nearly 60 points combined in that series.

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Chris Webber remembers the rivalry between Lakers and Kings

On the other side of the court was Sacramento’s power forward Chris Webber. His team gave a tough fight to the championship contenders however lost to the Lakers’ offensive powerhouses. Webber has been announced in the 2021 class of Naismith Hall of Fame, having largely played for Golden State Warriors, Washington Bullets, and Sacramento Kings.

Reminiscing the 2002 conference finals edge-of-the-seat-thriller, Webber shared his experience with ‘The Athletic‘. “At the time, battling with Kobe (Bryant) and Shaq, they were two of the most dominant players ever. I remember the chess games that were played, I remember the excitement of playing in the Staples Center.”

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The 5-time NBA All-star further added – We didn’t win the series in 2002, but we went up against one of the greatest teams of all time. I don’t think there’s ever been a rivalry quite like that. Rest In Peace to Kobe, but we used to talk about those series a lot, and Shaq and I definitely did.”

Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal exhibited dominance

After winning over the Kings, the Lakers went on to defeat New Jersey Nets in the Finals to secure their third consecutive ring.

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The power-packed combination of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal have played on the Lakers for eight years together from 1996-2004. During their iconic legacy, the duo won three NBA championships (2000, 2001, 2002). Despite their off-court differences and feuds, the partnership was rock solid for scripting history.

WATCH THIS STORY: Kobe Bryant vs LeBron James – Reliving Their 2008 Epic Duel

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Pavni Ahuja

498 articles

Pavni Ahuja is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. Housing a keen interest in sports journalism, she is pursuing an undergraduate Journalism degree from Christ University. Pavni is an ardent fan of the NBA, with prior district-level playing experience in basketball.

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