The 1997–98 NBA season was the Lakers' 50th season in the National Basketball Association, and 38th in the city of Los Angeles. During the offseason, the Lakers signed free agents Rick Fox and Jon Barry. Kobe Bryant emerged as a star in his second season averaging 15.4 points per game off the bench, while being selected to play in the 1998 NBA All-Star Game at the age of 19. Joining him on the Western Conference All-Star roster were Shaquille O'Neal, Eddie Jones and Nick Van Exel. The Lakers got off to a fast start to the season winning their first eleven games, before losing O'Neal to a strained stomach muscle that forced him to sit out 20 games. In his absence, the Lakers went 13–7. They won 22 of their final 25 games to tie the Pacific Division title with the Seattle SuperSonics with a 61–21 record. It was the Lakers' best record since the 1989–90 season.
In the playoffs, the Lakers defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 3–1 in the first round for the second consecutive year, then defeated the SuperSonics 4–1 in the semifinals after losing Game 1. However, in the Western Conference Finals, they were swept by the Utah Jazz in four straight games. Following the season, Van Exel was traded to the Denver Nuggets, and Barry signed as a free agent with the Sacramento Kings.
|1997–98 Los Angeles Lakers roster|
|SG||20||Barry, Jon||6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)||195 lb (88 kg)||1969–07–25||Georgia Tech|
|PF||23||Bennett, Mario||6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)||235 lb (107 kg)||1973–08–01||Arizona State|
|PF||43||Blount, Corie||6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)||240 lb (109 kg)||1969–01–04||Cincinnati|
|SG||8||Bryant, Kobe||6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)||205 lb (93 kg)||1978–08–23||Lower Merion HS|
|C||41||Campbell, Elden||6 ft 11 in (2.11 m)||215 lb (98 kg)||1968–07–23||Clemson|
|PG||2||Fisher, Derek||6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)||210 lb (95 kg)||1974–08–09||Arkansas-Little Rock|
|SF||17||Fox, Rick||6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)||230 lb (104 kg)||1969–07–24||North Carolina|
|PF||5||Horry, Robert||6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)||220 lb (100 kg)||1970–08–25||Alabama|
|SG||6||Jones, Eddie||6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)||190 lb (86 kg)||1971–10–20||Temple|
|C||34||O'Neal, Shaquille||7 ft 1 in (2.16 m)||325 lb (147 kg)||1972–03–06||LSU|
|C||45||Rooks, Sean||6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)||250 lb (113 kg)||1969–09–09||Arizona|
|SG||24||Seals, Shea ||6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)||210 lb (95 kg)||1975–08–26||Tulsa|
|PG||9||Van Exel, Nick||6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)||170 lb (77 kg)||1971–11–27||Cincinnati|
- Head coach
- Assistant coach(es)
- (C) Team captain
- (DP) Unsigned draft pick
- (FA) Free agent
- (S) Suspended
Last transaction: 1997–09–22
Record vs. opponents
West first round
(3) Los Angeles Lakers vs. (6) Portland Trail Blazers Last playoff meeting: 1997 Western Conference First Round (Los Angeles won 3–1)
West Conference Semifinals
(2) Seattle SuperSonics vs. (3) Los Angeles Lakers Last playoff meeting: 1995 Western Conference First Round (Los Angeles won 3–1)
West Conference Finals
(1) Utah Jazz vs. (3) Los Angeles Lakers Last playoff meeting: 1997 Western Conference Semifinals (Utah won 4–0)
Awards and records
Weekly and monthly
- Shaquille O'Neal was named NBA Player of the Week for games played from November 9 through November 15.
- Eddie Jones was named NBA Player of the Month for November.
- Shaquille O'Neal was named NBA Player of the Month for January.
- Shaquille O'Neal was named NBA Player of the Week for games played from March 15 to March 21.
- Shaquille O'Neal was named NBA Player of the Month for April.
- Del Harris was named NBA Coach of the Month for April.