In 2003, the San Antonio Spurs ended the Los Angeles Lakers three-peat reign by beating them 4-2 in the Conference Semifinals en route to their second NBA title.
In the off-season, the Lakers added four veterans to their squad – future Hall of Famers Karl Marlone and Gary Payton along with role players Horace Grant and Bryon Russell; while the Spurs added Laker legend “Big Shot Bob” – Robert Horry.
The Western Conference was especially competitive with only a few games separating the top seeds. Kevin Garnett led the Minnesota Timberwolves to their first division title by a single game over the Spurs, while an April slump by the Sacramento Kings allowed the Lakers to win the Pacific Division by a game.
|3||San Antonio Spurs||57-25||1-1||8-7||13-2||9-8||8-2||11-5||7-0|
|4||Los Angeles Lakers||56-26||1-0||13-3||7-4||6-9||11-4||13-3||5-3|
In the playoffs, the Lakers and Spurs again met in the semifinals. The Series was tied 2-2 and the teams playing in a tight Game 5. When Kobe Bryant hit a jumper to put the Lakers up 72-71 with 11.5 seconds to go, it set in motion one of the most exciting 11.5 seconds in NBA history with incredible shots made by Tim Duncan and Derek Fisher.
The Lakers would win Game 6 to clinch the series.
They then would beat Minnesota in six to return the finals.
In the Finals, the Detroit Pistons stunned the Lakers 4-1 in one of the biggest upsets ever in the NBA Finals.
After the Finals, Karl Malone, Rick Fox and Horace Grant retired. Shaq, Gary Payton, Bryon Russell, erek Fisher and Coach Phil Jackson all left the Lakers after that season.
Fisher and Jackson would return to the Lakers and Fisher had some dramatic clutch moments in the Lakers win over Orlando in the 2009 Finals.