The Los Angeles Lakers’ playoff run in 2001 was one of the most impressive of all-time, as they went 15-1 en route to their second consecutive championship.
After finishing 56-26 in the regular season, they went into the postseason as the second seed in the Western Conference behind the San Antonio Spurs.
The Lakers made quick work of the Portland Trail Blazers and Sacramento Kings in the first two rounds, going 7-0 and setting up a Western Conference Finals matchup with the top-seeded Spurs. Los Angeles went on to sweep the Spurs as well, outscoring them by 89 points in the fours games setting up a matchup with Allen Iverson and the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA Finals.
Going in with a lot of confidence, Game 1 of the Finals did not go as planned for Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, and the Lakers as they were defeated 107-101 in overtime. Iverson hit a crossover step back over Lakers point guard Tyronn Lue with 47 seconds left in OT to put Philadelphia up by four, and essentially icing the game.
Los Angeles went on to win the next four games of the series, completing the best playoff run of all-time.
O’Neal, who along with Iverson is a part of the 2016 Basketball Hall of Fame class, blamed Iverson for ruining their perfect run in an NBA TV Exclusive Interview Special:
“A lot of people forget but [we were] 15-1 in the playoffs. If it wasn’t for Allen Iverson stepping over Tyronn Lue, we’d probably be the best NBA team ever to win a championship. We still have the record. I was a little nervous last year [with Golden State].”
Los Angeles went on to repeat in 2002, making it three straight championship rings for O’Neal and the rest of the Lakers.