There are a lot of ‘what ifs’ in the NBA; what if Michael Jordan never retired, what if LeBron James stayed in Miami or what if the Los Angeles Lakers never faced the San Antonio Spurs in the 2000s.
In 1999 and most of the early 2000s, both the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers dominated the West and they had some interesting clashes in the playoffs.
They faced off for not only West supremacy but also a shot at the NBA title. The Spurs would go on to capture five titles (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2014) as did the Lakers with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal (2000-2002, 2009-10).
But, the question now is how many chips the Lakers would have gone if they never had that huge competition from the Spurs. According to Bryant, the Lakers would have won 10-straight.
Bryant appeared on “All The Smoke” and discussed the Spurs when the rivalry was at its peak.
“San Antonio was tough. They were tough and when the playoffs came around, it wasn’t like Shaq and I weren’t on the same page.
“We just got beat.
“The bigger question should be, ‘How many would we have won if the Spurs weren’t the Spurs?” We would have ran the table for a decade.
“The talent, the coaching, everything in San Antonio was kind of a perfect storm. If they weren’t in the picture we probably would have run 10 in a row.”
This rivalry left us some of the best moments we watched in the 2000s. For instance, San Antonio prevented the Lakers’ “3-peat” team, beating the 1999 Lakers to end their run at the Great Western Forum.
Another great moment was Derek Fisher’s iconic “.4” shot, as well as ex-Lakers coach Phil Jackson making verbal shots at the Spurs to hotly contested playoff series. This was something we never saw again, not even in the 2010s when LeBron James and the Golden State Warriors clashed in four straight Finals.
We never know if Kobe’s words would be a reality and the Lakers were to win 10 consecutive championships with San Antonio out of the picture, but you can’t deny the things these two squads showed on the floor were unforgettable.