Samaki Walker chats with Scoop B Radio’s Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson about his epic 3-pointer against the Sacramento Kings in the 2002 NBA Western Conference Finals. Press Play Below To Listen!
The 2002 NBA Western Conference Finals matchup between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Sacramento Kings is widely regarded as one of the best series in NBA playoff history.
The last four games of that best of seven Western Conference Finals series came down to the final seconds with two games decided on game winning shots.
Game 7 was decided in overtime.
Is that a thriller television movie or what? The turning point of that series was game 4 at Staples Center.
With a 2-1 series lead, Sacramento built a 24-point lead in the first half.
Lakers forward, Samaki Walker heaved a 3-pointer to cut Sacramento’s lead to 14 points at halftime.
Sounds good, right?
Upon further review, Walker released the ball after the clock expired. This was 2002 and the NBA had not yet implemented referees reviewing questionable calls in-game. So the three pointer stood.
It’s been said that that play inspired the NBA to review plays.
“I’m glad the shot happened because it sparked up the conversation for the instant replay,” Samaki Walker told me on Scoop B Radio.
“It brought it to the forefront, which I think the game needed. No referee could have possibly seen that at the time. It’s probably the people at home who got a chance to see the replay first, who questioned it. By then, it’s too late.”
The Lakers would go on to win game 4 100-99. Lakers forward, Robert Horry played the role of hero, scoring 11 of his 18 points in the 4th quarter and living up to his nickname, Big Shot Bob after hitting a wide open 3 pointer over Chris Webber.
The Lakers tied the series at 2 games apiece.
“There’s no way that we should have came back,” Walker told me.
“And if you’re a competitor, you don’t blame that shot for that loss. You blame everything that happened, that transpired for the demise that led up to the Robert Horry shot at the end.”
The Lakers would go on to beat the Kings in 7 games and would advance to the NBA Finals, facing a Jason Kidd, Kenyon Martin-led New Jersey Nets.
The Lakers beat New Jersey and became world champs.
Years later, that Lakers Western Conference Finals win over Sacramento was called into question when an attorney for former NBA referee, Tim Donaghy filed a court document alleging that Game 6 was fixed by two referees.
For those keeping score at home, Donaghy, an NBA referee from 1994-2007, resigned from the league after the FBI began investigating allegations that he bet on games that he officiated during his last two seasons and that he made calls affecting the point spread in those games.
Donaghy plead guilty to two federal charges related to the investigation and was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison.
The Sacramento Kings were in a groove during the 2001-02 season.
By the time the playoffs came rolling around, Chris Webber was a fantasy basketball player’s statistical dream. C-Webb posted an impressive 23.7 PPG, 10.8 RPG and a shade under 5 assists per game.
Oh and by the way, Webber did all of this while shooting 50 percent from the field.
Kings point guard, Mike Bibby knew his role offensively and defensively Kings shooting guard, Doug Christie and Kings center, Vlade Divac, a former Laker had managed to contain Lakers stars Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal as much as they could.
So, were the Kings that good? Nah, it was just the Lakers’ time.
The Lakers were a juggernaut. They appeared in the NBA Finals from 2000-2002 and knocking off the Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers and Nets.
The Kings were a talented regular season team just like this season’s Houston Rockets and Toronto Raptors team have been. But the Kings had to prove themselves just like the Raptors and Rockets will have to.
“That’s the game of basketball,” said Walker.
“I can care less what anybody says as far as any Sacramento Kings or any former Sacramento players.”