2002–03 Los Angeles Lakers season
The 2002–03 NBA season was the Lakers' 55th season in the National Basketball Association, and 43rd in the city of Los Angeles. The Lakers entered the season as the three-time defending champions, having defeated the New Jersey Nets in four straight games in the 2002 NBA Finals, winning their fourteenth NBA championship. With All-Star center Shaquille O'Neal sidelined after an off-season foot-surgery, the Lakers started 3–9. After he returned, the team only improved slowly, having an 11–19 record thirty games into the season, their worst start in ten years. However, the Lakers won 11 of their final 13 games ending the season with a 50–32 record, finishing fifth in the Western Conference. The season saw co-captain Kobe Bryant play all 82 games for the first time in his career. He and Shaq were selected to play in the 2003 NBA All-Star Game in Atlanta.
Facing an uphill battle without home-court advantage, the Lakers managed to beat the 4th-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves in the opening round of the playoffs, but fell to the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs in the conference semifinals. Following the season, Robert Horry signed as a free agent with the San Antonio Spurs, Mark Madsen signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Samaki Walker signed with the Miami Heat, and Brian Shaw retired.
The season was overshadowed by the death of longtime Lakers broadcaster Chick Hearn, who died after a fall in the summer of 2002, and to pay tribute, the Lakers donned an alternate white uniform, which can be only worn on Christmas and Sunday home games. The uniforms made its debut in a home loss against the Sacramento Kings on Christmas Day. They were designed by late owner Jerry Buss' daughter, who is now the controlling owner and president of the Los Angeles Lakers, Jeanie.
Los Angeles Lakers roster
- z - clinched division title
- y - clinched division title
- x - clinched playoff spot
Record vs. opponents
West First Round
West Conference Semifinals
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field-goal percentage||3P%||3-point field-goal percentage||FT%||Free-throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game|
Awards and records
- Shaquille O'Neal, All-NBA First Team
- Kobe Bryant, All-NBA First Team
- Kobe Bryant, NBA All-Defensive First Team
- Shaquille O'Neal, NBA All-Defensive Second Team