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The 2003 Los Angeles Lakers had been at the verge of additional cementing their dynasty — till Tim Duncan and the small-market San Antonio Spurs put an finish to it.
When the NBA and ABA merged within the 1976-77 season, the San Antonio Spurs weren’t but 10 years previous, nonetheless setting up themselves in one of the vital smallest markets in skilled basketball. In the meantime, the Los Angeles Lakers had been getting into their twenty ninth season as a franchise with six championships already on their resume.
From then on, each postseason for 46 immediately years featured no less than one of the vital two mythical franchises — a streak that in spite of everything resulted in 2022. That span integrated a number of titanic clashes between all-time greats and heart-stopping moments that extremely joyful basketball audiences international.
I used to be simply 11 years previous when the Spurs in spite of everything broke via to say their first NBA name in 1999, sweeping during the Lakers within the procedure. That second will ceaselessly be ingrained in my reminiscence. I recall flipping during the information stations to observe the protection till way past nighttime, then going buying groceries day after today for championship tools from knock-off pop-up tents across the community.
With Tim Duncan now on the town, I used to be positive there have been going to be extra nights like this very quickly.
Then Kobe Bryant came about.
Significantly extra mature and polished than he used to be in 1999, Bryant went directly to torch everybody in his trail because the Lakers knocked out San Antonio within the 2001 and 2002 playoffs, losing only one recreation within the procedure. Paired with Shaquille O’Neal and complemented through items like Robert Horry and Derek Fisher, Bryant’s Lakers had been unstoppable for 3 immediately seasons.
The Lakers went 181-65 within the steady season all through their dominant threepeat from 2000-2002, and that used to be ahead of they even flipped their playoff transfer. It used to be a irritating time for Spurs fanatics in all places who knew the roster had sufficient to seize some other Larry O’Brien trophy however simply couldn’t get previous the dynamic duo.
Feedback from Lakers Head Trainer Phil Jackson that the Spurs’ most effective championship “deserved an asterisk” additionally didn’t assist ease the ache of regularly bobbing up brief to the Lake Display. The playoff contention between the Spurs and Lakers used to be in peril of disintegrating in 2003, because it’s tricky to name the rest a rival if just one staff ever comes out on best.
Los Angeles had gotten the easier of the Alamo Town in six of 8 playoff sequence since first clashing in 1982, and some other sequence loss in spite of having homecourt merit and the reigning back-to-back NBA MVP would for sure be the worst one of all of them. That MVP, because it grew to become out, would now not be denied once more.
Tim Duncan used to be too just right for completely everybody in 2003
It’s arduous to do Tim Duncan’s 2003 season justice through simply checklist out stats. Certain, his 23 issues, 13 forums, and 3 blocks consistent with recreation had been elite, but it surely’s how methodically dominant he performed that used to be actually particular.
That season used to be The Large Basic in his high, and what a chief it used to be. After main San Antonio to the league’s perfect file of 60-22, he bumped his numbers even upper within the playoffs, evolving spherical through spherical into one of the vital largest forces the sport has ever observed.
The Spurs had been examined within the first spherical of the playoffs through the Phoenix Suns, a six-game sequence through which Duncan post a groovy 18.7 issues, 16.0 rebounds, and three.5 blocks consistent with recreation. When it got here to the Western Convention Semifinals matchup with the Lakers, it used to be necessarily two superstars in opposition to one famous person and two emerging skills.
The 2 aspects traded tough punches during the first 4 video games, each and every protective house court docket to make it a 2-2 tie heading right into a essential Recreation 5.
A unmarried shot proves the Spurs had been destined to topple L.A.
Dynasties don’t die simply, and Kobe Bryant wasn’t about to let his squad get started heading in that path and not using a struggle in Recreation 5. With the Spurs main through 22 within the ultimate minute of the 3rd quarter, all indications pointed to a cruising victory for the Silver and Black and a 3-2 sequence lead heading to Los Angeles.
As he so steadily did, Bryant then exploded, mounting a livid comeback that gave the Lakers a shot to win the sport within the last seconds with a made 3. Well-known for now not passing the ball as steadily as he must, it used to be Bryant’s aggressive nature and shot-making that allowed for the comeback within the first position.
Blanketed within the ultimate ownership through defensive famous person Bruce Bowen, Bryant dished a move to the deadliest seize shooter in NBA historical past, Robert Horry. Large Shot Bob had already established himself as a knockdown shooter in probably the most pressure-packed eventualities, and he had a wide-open glance he generally makes in his sleep.
I be mindful my coronary heart beating via my chest when the shot used to be launched, and it no doubt stopped as soon as the shot went three-quarters of the way in which into the online ahead of coming out.
Horry would move directly to hit a number of extra seize pictures over his adorned profession, together with the only largest shot in San Antonio Spurs historical past. This actual rim-out set the degree for the Spurs to enter Los Angeles with renewed depth and resolution not to permit some other let-up. On these days in 2003, they did precisely that.
Tim Duncan and the Spurs finish the Lakers’ dynasty, get started their very own
With their likelihood at a four-peat at the line, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant did all they might to put off the inevitable, however no staff on the earth used to be going to prevent Tim Duncan’s quest in Recreation 6.
The use of his whole arsenal of publish strikes, hook pictures, and mid-range jumpers, Duncan used to be a person possessed regardless of who used to be in entrance of him — despite the fact that that any individual used to be 7-foot-1 and 325 kilos.
“This can be a hospital,” stated Invoice Walton all through a fourth-quarter blitz through San Antonio. “What number of gamers have performed this neatly ever?”
By way of the tip of the onslaught that noticed the Spurs outscore the Lakers 32-13 within the ultimate body, Duncan had tallied 37 issues, 16 rebounds, 4 assists, and two blocks in a masterpiece efficiency.
Because the solar set at the Lakers’ dynasty, Derek Fisher and Kobe Bryant may just most effective glance on from the bench with tears forming of their eyes as they learned their time atop the league used to be in spite of everything finishing. It will be the ultimate championship Kobe and Shaq would win in combination, even if they’d revel in name luck later of their careers.
The Spurs’ dynasty is validated through their largest competitors
Even supposing San Antonio ended up successful 5 titles in 15 seasons and had 50+ regular-season wins yearly from 1999 to 2017, their loss of a repeat name has given ammo to many that wish to discredit their dominant run. “You’ll be able to’t have a dynasty in the event you don’t even repeat as soon as,” I’ve heard a couple of instances, steadily from Lakers fanatics.
The article is, each Kobe and Shaq have publicly referred to the Spurs as a dynasty on a couple of instance. As a duo that gained 3 consecutive titles, I feel their opinion almost certainly carries a little bit extra weight than Twitter consumer LakerzFan4Lyfe.
When the Spurs in spite of everything stopped the Lakers’ teach in its tracks, it used to be a win for small markets in all places and just the start of what would develop into one of the vital super streaks of consistency in skilled sports activities.
The Spurs-Lakers contention used to be in spite of everything established on that day, and what a contention it used to be.
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