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2001–02 NBA season

2001–02 NBA season

The 2001–02 NBA season was the 56th season of the National Basketball Association. The season ended with the Los Angeles Lakers winning their third straight championship, beating the New Jersey Nets 4–0 in the 2002 NBA Finals.

2001–02 NBA season
LeagueNational Basketball Association
DurationOctober 30, 2001 – April 17, 2002
April 20 – June 2, 2002 (Playoffs)
June 5 – 12, 2002 (Finals)
Number of teams29
TV partner(s)NBC, TNT, NBA TV, TBS
Top draft pickKwame Brown
Picked byWashington Wizards
Regular season
Top seedSacramento Kings
Season MVPTim Duncan (San Antonio)
Top scorerAllen Iverson (Philadelphia)
Eastern championsNew Jersey Nets
  Eastern runners-upBoston Celtics
Western championsLos Angeles Lakers
  Western runners-upSacramento Kings
ChampionsLos Angeles Lakers
  Runners-upNew Jersey Nets
Finals MVPShaquille O'Neal (L.A. Lakers)

Notable occurrences

Coaching changes
Team2000–01 coach2001–02 coach
Cleveland CavaliersRandy WittmanJohn Lucas
Detroit PistonsGeorge IrvineRick Carlisle
Portland Trail BlazersMike Dunleavy, Sr.Maurice Cheeks
Washington WizardsLeonard HamiltonDoug Collins
TeamOutgoing coachIncoming coach
Chicago BullsTim FloydBill Berry
Bill BerryBill Cartwright
Denver NuggetsDan IsselMike Evans
Golden State WarriorsDave CowensBrian Winters
New York KnicksJeff Van GundyDon Chaney
Phoenix SunsScott SkilesFrank Johnson
  • Kwame Brown became the first high school player to be drafted first overall when the Washington Wizards drafted him in the 2001 NBA draft.

  • The Grizzlies relocated from Vancouver, British Columbia to Memphis, Tennessee. They played their first three seasons at The Pyramid in Memphis.

  • This was the final season for the Charlotte Hornets in Charlotte, as they would relocate to New Orleans for the following season. However, the NBA added an expansion team to Charlotte in time for the 2004–05 NBA season. In 2013, the now New Orleans Pelicans announced they would relinquished their name and history to this new Charlotte team beginning from the 2014–15 season. Therefore, the official NBA record now states that the Charlotte NBA franchise suspended operations for two years at the conclusion of this season.

  • The San Antonio Spurs played their final home game at the Alamodome.

  • The 2002 NBA All-Star Game was held at First Union Center in Philadelphia. Kobe Bryant of the Lakers took MVP honors amidst boos from the Philadelphia fans following a 135–120 victory by the West. Philadelphia was originally slated to host the 1999 All-Star Game, but was awarded the 2002 game instead due to the 1998 lockout.

  • Prior to the start of the season, NBA and Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan, then part-owner of the Washington Wizards, announced his second comeback to the NBA, this time with the Wizards.

  • The Dallas Mavericks played their first game at the American Airlines Center, not to be confused with the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida.

  • This was the last season that both NBC and TBS televised NBA games.

  • NBA teams wore patches on their jerseys with the American flag and a red-white-and-blue ribbon, in honor of the victims of the September 11 attacks. The Raptors wore the American and Canadian flags on theirs.

  • The only Canadian team left in the NBA, the Toronto Raptors, after losing seventeen of eighteen to drop to 30–38, win twelve of their last fourteen to finish at 42–40 and go to the NBA playoffs as the seventh seed in the East.

  • The New Jersey Nets, who had never won fifty games in a season and had only been to the second round of the playoffs once, won 52 games to reach the Finals. With the Nets appearing in the Finals, the Denver Nuggets remain as of 2017–18 the only former ABA team to have never reached the NBA Finals.

  • 2001–02 is one of the most memorable seasons in the history of the Milwaukee Bucks. The team got off to a division-leading 26–13 start, and were 10 games over .500 as late as March 6. However, the Bucks would proceed to lose 16 of their last 22 games and miss the playoffs, one of the biggest late-season collapses for a team that was contending for a division title in March.

  • For the first time since 1985–86, no team won fewer than twenty games. The Chicago Bulls and Golden State Warriors shared the league's worst record of 21–61. This had however previously occurred during every season between 1973–74 and 1978–79 and again from 1983–84 to 1985–86 inclusive.[1]

  • Former All-Star Jayson Williams was charged with the murder of his limousine driver on February 14. He was immediately fired from his spot on NBC's Verizon Wireless at the Half shortly after appearing on TV during the All-Star Game the previous week.

  • Marv Albert and Mike Fratello were involved in a limousine crash prior to the start of the 2002 Playoffs and were unable to announce for NBC. Albert returned to announce the 2002 Western Conference Finals and NBA Finals.

  • The 2002 NBA Playoffs featured several controversial last-second shots. During Game 4 of the series between the Charlotte Hornets and Orlando Magic, Baron Davis hit a three-pointer at the buzzer that should have counted, but was waved off. Later, Reggie Miller of the Indiana Pacers was awarded a game-tying three-pointer from half-court against the New Jersey Nets that should not have counted, but was. In the Western Conference Finals between the Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Lakers, Lakers forward Samaki Walker hit a three-pointer to end the half that should not have counted (the three points would later haunt the Kings as Robert Horry won the game on a last second shot). After the playoffs ended, it was decided that instant replay was needed in the NBA. In addition, the NBA installed red light beams on the backboard to determine the end of the shot clock and/or the game clock.

  • The Los Angeles Lakers were crowned champions at the end of the season, but the Sacramento Kings were viewed as the better team going into the series. Former referee Tim Donaghy revealed that he knew some of the referees of game 6 of that seven game series, and that they were "company men". Those referees were always doing what was in best interest of the league, and extending the series was an easy decision to make more money for the NBA in 2002. The Lakers attempted 40 free throws in game 6 in comparison to the Kings' 25 attempts, and 27 in the fourth quarter alone. Stretching the series allowed for the Western Conference Finals to reach a Game 7, which would be the first and only one of the entire playoffs.

  • This season marked the first time the league's scoring leader (in this case Allen Iverson) failed to make the All-NBA First Team.

  • This was the last season the NBA Playoffs first round format was a best of five game series, it was changed in the 2003 NBA Playoffs to a best of seven game series, like the other rounds of the playoffs.

  • The Zone Defense was legalized.

  • The Defensive three-second violation was introduced.

2001–02 NBA changes


By division

By conference


  • z – Clinched home court advantage for the entire playoffs

  • c – Clinched home court advantage for the conference playoffs

  • y – Clinched division title

  • x – Clinched playoff spot


Teams in bold advanced to the next round. The numbers to the left of each team indicate the team's seeding in its conference, and the numbers to the right indicate the number of games the team won in that round. The division champions are marked by an asterisk. Home court advantage does not necessarily belong to the higher-seeded team, but instead the team with the better regular season record; teams enjoying the home advantage are shown in italics.

First RoundConference SemifinalsConference FinalsNBA Finals
E1New Jersey3
E1New Jersey4
E1New Jersey4
Eastern Conference
E1New Jersey*0
W3LA Lakers4
Western Conference
W3LA Lakers4
W3LA Lakers3
W3LA Lakers4
W2San Antonio*1
W2San Antonio3
  • Division winner Bold Series winner Italic Team with home-court advantage

Statistics leaders

Points per gameAllen IversonPhiladelphia 76ers31.4
Rebounds per gameBen WallaceDetroit Pistons13.0
Assists per gameAndre MillerCleveland Cavaliers10.9
Steals per gameAllen IversonPhiladelphia 76ers2.8
Blocks per gameBen WallaceDetroit Pistons3.5
FG%Shaquille O'NealLos Angeles Lakers.579
FT%Reggie MillerIndiana Pacers.911
3FG%Steve SmithSan Antonio Spurs.472


Yearly awards

  • Most Valuable Player: Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs

  • Rookie of the Year: Pau Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies

  • Defensive Player of the Year: Ben Wallace, Detroit Pistons

  • Sixth Man of the Year: Corliss Williamson, Detroit Pistons

  • Most Improved Player: Jermaine O'Neal, Indiana Pacers

  • Coach of the Year: Rick Carlisle, Detroit Pistons

  • Executive of the Year: Rod Thorn, New Jersey Nets

  • Sportsmanship Award: Steve Smith, San Antonio Spurs

Players of the month

The following players were named the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Month.

MonthEastern ConferenceWestern Conference
October – NovemberJason Kidd(New Jersey Nets) (1/1)Kobe Bryant(Los Angeles Lakers) (1/1)
DecemberPaul Pierce(Boston Celtics) (1/2)
Antoine Walker(Boston Celtics) (1/1)
Tim Duncan(San Antonio Spurs) (1/2)
JanuaryAllen Iverson(Philadelphia 76ers) (1/1)Chris Webber(Sacramento Kings) (1/1)
FebruaryTracy McGrady(Orlando Magic) (1/1)Kevin Garnett(Minnesota Timberwolves) (1/1)
MarchBen Wallace(Detroit Pistons) (1/1)Shawn Marion(Phoenix Suns) (1/1)
AprilPaul Pierce(Boston Celtics) (2/2)Tim Duncan(San Antonio Spurs) (2/2)

Rookies of the month

The following players were named the Eastern and Western Conference Rookies of the Month.

MonthEastern ConferenceWestern Conference
October – NovemberJamaal Tinsley(Indiana Pacers) (1/2)Pau Gasol(Memphis Grizzlies) (1/3)
DecemberBrendan Haywood(Washington Wizards) (1/1)Shane Battier(Memphis Grizzlies) (1/1)
JanuaryRichard Jefferson(New Jersey Nets) (1/1)Pau Gasol(Memphis Grizzlies) (2/3)
FebruaryTrenton Hassell(Chicago Bulls) (1/1)Jason Richardson(Golden State Warriors) (1/1)
MarchJamaal Tinsley(Indiana Pacers) (2/2)Pau Gasol(Memphis Grizzlies) (3/3)
AprilŽeljko Rebrača(Detroit Pistons) (1/1)Gilbert Arenas(Golden State Warriors) (1/1)

Coaches of the month

The following coaches were named Coaches of the Month.

October – NovemberLarry Brown(Philadelphia 76ers) (1/1)
DecemberDoug Collins(Washington Wizards) (1/1)
JanuaryRick Adelman(Sacramento Kings) (1/1)
FebruaryRick Carlisle(Detroit Pistons) (1/1)
MarchGregg Popovich(San Antonio Spurs) (1/1)
AprilLenny Wilkens(Toronto Raptors) (1/1)


Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgSee Berri, David J., Brook, Stacey L., Frick, Bernd, Fenn, Aju J. and Vicente-Mayoral, Roberto; 'The Short Supply of Tall People: Competitive Imbalance and the National Basketball Association'; Journal of Economic Issues, Vol. 39, No. 4 (Dec., 2005), pp. 1029–1041
Sep 26, 2019, 7:37 PM
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Sep 26, 2019, 7:37 PM