This article will look at the Lakers' five most heartbreaking losses of the Phil Jackson era.
In his 11 seasons coaching the Los Angeles Lakers, Jackson led the team to five championships and seven conference titles, further establishing himself as the greatest coach in league history and the Lakers as one of the most successful franchises in sports.
But despite all of the success, the team suffered a few heartbreaking losses with the “Zen Master” as its floor general.
Here are the five most heartbreaking losses the Lakers suffered during the Phil Jackson era.
With a 3-2 series lead, the Los Angeles Lakers were one defensive stop away from winning their first playoff series since Shaquille O’Neal left the team following the 2004 season.
But Tim Thomas had other ideas. The Phoenix forward hit a three-pointer with six seconds remaining to send the game into overtime.
The Suns would go on to win in overtime and win Game 7 in convincing fashion.
What makes this game a little more heartbreaking is that the Lakers held a 3-1 series advantage after four games.
With the series tied at two games each, it appeared the San Antonio Spurs were going to cruise to a Game 5 victory. The Spurs were up by as much as 25 points before the Los Angeles 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. The Lakers then lost Game 6 at home, ending their attempt at four straight championships.
In one of the biggest upsets in NBA Finals history, the Detroit Pistons defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in five games.
In the fifth and final game of the series, the Pistons beat the Lakers 100-87. What was even more heartbreaking than losing the series was the fact it was the last time Kobe Bryant and Shaq played as Laker teammates.
Can anyone think of a worse way for Phil Jackson to end his career as coach of the Los Angeles Lakers than the way he did?
In what turned out to be his final game as coach of the team, Phil Jackson and the Lakers were defeated by the Dallas Mavericks 122-86, completing the Mavericks’ sweep of the defending champions.
It was a hard watching the Lakers lose in such embarrassing fashion, ending Jackson’s illustrious career on such a sour note.
Even more deflating than the 39-point loss in Game 6 of the 2008 NBA Finals was the complete and total meltdown in Game 4.
The Los Angeles Lakers led by as much as 24 points before the Boston 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.