Since Phil Jackson came to the Lakers before the 1999-2000 season, the team has won five NBA championships and seven Western Conference titles. For all of the memorable moments, dominating performances, and championship banners over the last decade, there have been a few heartbreaking losses mixed in with all of the celebration. Below, in order, are the five most heartbreaking losses for the purple and gold over the last decade.
5. Western Conference First Round, 2006, Game 6 vs Phoenix- With a 3-2 series lead, The Lakers were one defensive stop away from winning their first playoff series since Shaq left the team after the 03-04 season. However, Tim Thomas had other ideas. The forward hit a three pointer with six seconds remaining to send the game into overtime.
The Suns would go on to win game six in overtime and then blow out the Lakers in game seven. What makes this game a little more heartbreaking is that the Lakers held a 3-1 series advantage after four games.
4.Western Conference Semifinals, 2003, Game 5 vs San Antonio- With the series tied at two games each, it appeared the Spurs were going to cruise to a game five victory. The Spurs were up by as much as 25 points, before the Lakers made a furious second half rally to get within two points with just seconds remaining.
The Lakers had a chance to win the game, but Robert Horry's three pointer went in and out and the Lakers came up short. The Lakers then lost game six at home, ending their attempt at four straight championships.
3. NBA Finals, 2004, Game 5 vs Detroit- In one of the biggest upsets in NBA Finals history, the Pistons beat the Lakers in five games. In the fifth and final game of the series, the Pistons beat the Lakers 100-87 to capture the championship. What was more heartbreaking than losing to the Pistons was the fact it was the last time the Kobe-Shaq Lakers played together.
After the season, the team was split up. Shaq was traded to Miami, Derek Fisher left for Golden State, and Phil Jackson temporarily retired. This left Kobe with a new slew of players and coaches to work with. The following season, the Lakers suffered only their second losing season since moving to Los Angeles.
2. NBA Finals, 2008, Game 6 vs Boston- With their season on the line, the Lakers came out in game six of the finals and proceeded to get creamed by the Celtics. The Celtics not only celebrated winning the championship, they did so by beating the Lakers by 39 points. It was the second biggest margin of defeat in finals history.
After this loss, the Lakers' toughness would be questioned for the next two years, until they beat the Celtics last spring for the championship.
1. NBA Finals, 2008, Game 4 vs Boston- Even more deflating than the 39 point loss in game six, was the complete and total meltdown in game four. The Lakers led by as much as 24 points, before the Celtics made a valiant comeback. Instead of squaring the series at two games each,the Lakers blew their big lead and fell in a 3-1 hole.
It was the largest comeback in an NBA Finals game since 1971. After this choke job, it was just a matter of when, and not if, the Lakers would lose the series.
It is hard to complain too much, considering all of our success through the years. However, all of the losses mentioned above caused me to lose sleep and feel empty for a couple of days.