The 2001-2002 Sacramento Kings were one of best teams ever that did not win a championship, though they came close. The Kings finished the 2002 season with the best record in the NBA; a record of 61-21, including an NBA best 36-5 at home. They had a 12 -game winning streak from December through January, then an 11-game winning streak from March through April. Few teams could do that.
They played the game with a lot of blue-collar players, and they dominated. Chris Webber was the star; a beast among men that averaged 24.5 points with 10 rebounds a game, and was second on the team with 4.8 assists per. Peja StojakoviÄ‡ averaged 21 points a game while shooting 41% from three. Mike Bibby played the point guard position like you’re supposed to; started 80 games, led the team in assists, and shot a .45/.37/.80 shooting line. Doug Christie averaged two steals a game in his 81 starts with a total of 162. Bobby Jackson and Hedo Turkoglu both averaged over 10 points a game coming off the bench.
It had been 22 years since the Kings had won the Pacific Division, back then they were in Kansas City.
With home-court advantage, Sacramento easily handled the first two rounds against the Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks in five games each. Then came the one of the greatest, yet most controversial, playoff showdowns in history against Kobe Bryant and Shaq’s Lakers.
The last four games of the ’02 WCF were won in the final seconds, two were done by game winning jump shots, and Game 7 was decided in overtime. It was also filled with controversy and allegations.
Game 6 was such a controversial game, that six years later a court case was held because it was believed that the game was fixed by two referees. A document was released to the court that stated “Learned from Referee A that Referees A and F wanted to extend the series to seven games. Tim knew Referees A and F to be ‘company men’, always acting in the interest of the NBA, and that night, it was in the NBA’s interest to add another game to the series.” The Lakers won Game 6 106-102, attempting 18 more free throws than the Kings in the fourth quarter, and went on to win the series, and eventually the NBA championship.
That was the closest the Kings have came to the NBA Finals in a long time. They were the best Kings team since the franchise moved to Sacramento. Chris Webber was a legend, the team was legendary.
- Justin Hodges is Â a Staff Writer for ProSportsExtra.com