The Lakers defeated the New Jersey Nets in game 6 of the 2001-02 NBA Finals after Chris Webber was given a technical foul for arguing with referee Dick Bavetta. O’Neal and his teammates were able to take advantage of the extra free throws, leading to a victory.
The who won nba finals 2020 is a question that has been asked for years. In the 2001-02 NBA Championship, Chris Webber claimed that Shaquille O’Neal and the Lakers were helped by the referees in order to win the championship.
During the 2002 Western Conference Finals, Chris Webber and the Sacramento Kings came close to dethroning Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, and the powerful Los Angeles Lakers. They would have done so as well if it hadn’t been for some dodgy officiating. That’s how C-Webb sees it, at least.
Over the years, Webber and O’Neal have often joked about their upcoming confrontation. Shaq, on the other hand, pushed the former Kings star a little too hard in 2018, leading Webber to allege The Diesel and the Lakers had help from the zebras during a live television appearance.
The 2002 Western Conference Finals are perhaps the most contentious NBA playoff series ever.
Referees assist the Lakers in their victory against the Kings. This was the only NBA playoff game I’ve ever seen with worse officiating than Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals. Tim Donaghy said it was rigged, and I still believe him. https://t.co/Kc2XJklJlD
June 1, 2018 — Larry Phillips (@Ohiopreplegends)
At the time, the refereeing during the 2002 Western Conference Finals was a significant topic of contention. But, due to one guy, it has only grown in popularity over time.
Tim Donaghy, a former NBA official, was at the heart of the league’s betting controversy in 2007. He was sentenced to 15 months in jail after pleading guilty to two criminal conspiracy counts. When the discredited official was released, he caused a ruckus.
Donaghy published a book called Personal Foul in which he claimed that referees were manipulating games at the NBA’s request. Commissioner David Stern, said to Donaghy, favored big-market teams to advance in the playoffs and ordered officials to bias games in their favor whenever feasible. He also named the 2002 Western Conference Finals as the league’s most crooked series.
When the book was published, Stern strongly disputed the accusations. Even yet, there is a lot of doubt in the basketball world and among fans that something shady happened between the Lakers and the Kings.
Webber has long believed that the Kings, who lead the series 3-2 at one time, were cheated. C-Webb eventually snapped when O’Neal brags about defeating Sacramento during a broadcast on “Inside the NBA” in 2002.
Shaquille O’Neal and the Lakers had “dirty referees” on their side, according to Chris Webber.
In 2018, Shaquille O’Neal and Chris Webber appeared on the same “Inside The NBA” panel, and Shaq felt compelled to speak trash.
Initially, O’Neal lauded the Kings as the Lakers’ most difficult playoff foe. But, as is customary, he had to get a rib in. Superman reminded Webber of how Los Angeles defeated Sacramento at home in Game 7. Webber drew the conspiracy card right away.
“All it took was you and a couple of sleazy referees.”
-2018, Chris Webber
So, why is this series still remembered as one of the most heinous exhibitions of officiating in NBA history? Much of it comes from the Lakers’ apparently excessive amount of free throws at critical moments.
The Lakers won Game 1 easily, but the Kings rallied to win the following two games. Game 3 was a watershed moment for the team. In the first quarter, Sacramento jumped out to a 20-point lead. At halftime, the Purple and Gold had reduced the lead to 14 points, but only because the officials allowed a miracle Samaki Walker shot that should not have scored. After three quarters, O’Neal and his teammates had cut into the advantage again, trailing by only seven points.
Things started to become intriguing at this point. Despite seeming to commit many infractions, Shaq — a notoriously bad foul shooter — shot 6-of-6 from the charity line. By the way, O’Neal attempted more shots in the third quarter than he did in the whole first half. The Lakers knotted the series at two games each with a game-winning shot by Robert Horry.
The Kings fought back courageously, winning Game 5 to take a 3-2 lead in the series. In Game 6, the referees, once again, injected themselves into the picture. The Kings were whistled for a total of 31 personal fouls, with important frontcourt players like Vlade Divac and Scot Pollard fouling out and Webber piling up his own five. O’Neal attempted 17 free throws, including 10 in the fourth quarter alone. In fact, the Lakers made 27 free throws in the fourth quarter, compared to Sacramento’s nine.
Phil Jackson’s squad had evened the series, and LA won Game 7 at Arco Arena in Sacramento to seal the deal. However, many others, like Chris Webber, feel the Lakers benefited from the referee’s decision.
Webber is still enraged over the outcome of the series.
Shaquille O’Neal and the Lakers beat Chris Webber’s Kings in the 2002 Western Conference Finals | Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Chris Webber thinks the NBA intended Shaquille O’Neal and the Lakers to represent the Western Conference in the 2002 NBA Finals, and he still believes that.
At a recent interview with Shams Charania of The Athletic, the five-time All-Star quietly said that the Kings pushed LA to its limits “in a day when the NBA didn’t want little teams to succeed.” Those comments mirror Webber’s comments on The Ringer NBA Show in March, when he claimed the Kings were “cheated” in Game 6.
Webber will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame without a championship ring this weekend. However, he’ll almost certainly always put an asterisk next to the 2001-02 season.
Basketball Reference provided the statistics.
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