2001–02 NBA season
|2001–02 NBA season|
|League||National Basketball Association|
|Duration||October 30, 2001 – April 17, 2002 |
April 20 – June 2, 2002 (Playoffs)
June 5 – 12, 2002 (Finals)
|Number of teams||29|
|TV partner(s)||NBC, TNT, NBA TV, TBS|
|Top draft pick||Kwame Brown|
|Picked by||Washington Wizards|
|Top seed||Sacramento Kings|
|Season MVP||Tim Duncan (San Antonio)|
|Top scorer||Allen Iverson (Philadelphia)|
|Eastern champions||New Jersey Nets|
|Eastern runners-up||Boston Celtics|
|Western champions||Los Angeles Lakers|
|Western runners-up||Sacramento Kings|
|Champions||Los Angeles Lakers|
|Runners-up||New Jersey Nets|
|Finals MVP||Shaquille O'Neal (L.A. Lakers)|
The 2001–02 NBA season was the 56th season of the National Basketball Association. The season ended with the Los Angeles Lakers winning their third straight championship, beating the New Jersey Nets 4–0 in the 2002 NBA Finals.
|Team||2000–01 coach||2001–02 coach|
|Cleveland Cavaliers||Randy Wittman||John Lucas|
|Detroit Pistons||George Irvine||Rick Carlisle|
|Portland Trail Blazers||Mike Dunleavy, Sr.||Maurice Cheeks|
|Washington Wizards||Leonard Hamilton||Doug Collins|
|Team||Outgoing coach||Incoming coach|
|Chicago Bulls||Tim Floyd||Bill Berry|
|Bill Berry||Bill Cartwright|
|Denver Nuggets||Dan Issel||Mike Evans|
|Golden State Warriors||Dave Cowens||Brian Winters|
|New York Knicks||Jeff Van Gundy||Don Chaney|
|Phoenix Suns||Scott Skiles||Frank Johnson|
- Kwame Brown became the first high school player to be drafted first overall when the Washington Wizards drafted him in the 2001 NBA draft.
- The Grizzlies relocated from Vancouver, British Columbia to Memphis, Tennessee. They played their first three seasons at The Pyramid in Memphis.
- This was the final season for the Charlotte Hornets in Charlotte, as they would relocate to New Orleans for the following season. However, the NBA added an expansion team to Charlotte in time for the 2004–05 NBA season. In 2013, the now New Orleans Pelicans announced they would relinquished their name and history to this new Charlotte team beginning from the 2014–15 season. Therefore, the official NBA record now states that the Charlotte NBA franchise suspended operations for two years at the conclusion of this season.
- The San Antonio Spurs played their final home game at the Alamodome.
- The 2002 NBA All-Star Game was held at First Union Center in Philadelphia. Kobe Bryant of the Lakers took MVP honors amidst boos from the Philadelphia fans following a 135–120 victory by the West. Philadelphia was originally slated to host the 1999 All-Star Game, but was awarded the 2002 game instead due to the 1998 lockout.
- Prior to the start of the season, NBA and Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan, then part-owner of the Washington Wizards, announced his second comeback to the NBA, this time with the Wizards.
- The Dallas Mavericks played their first game at the American Airlines Center, not to be confused with the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida.
- This was the last season that both NBC and TBS televised NBA games.
- NBA teams wore patches on their jerseys with the American flag and a red-white-and-blue ribbon, in honor of the victims of the September 11 attacks. The Raptors wore the American and Canadian flags on theirs.
- The only Canadian team left in the NBA, the Toronto Raptors, after losing seventeen of eighteen to drop to 30–38, win twelve of their last fourteen to finish at 42–40 and go to the NBA playoffs as the seventh seed in the East.
- The New Jersey Nets, who had never won fifty games in a season and had only been to the second round of the playoffs once, won 52 games to reach the Finals. With the Nets appearing in the Finals, the Denver Nuggets remain as of 2017–18 the only former ABA team to have never reached the NBA Finals.
- 2001–02 is one of the most memorable seasons in the history of the Milwaukee Bucks. The team got off to a division-leading 26–13 start, and were 10 games over .500 as late as March 6. However, the Bucks would proceed to lose 16 of their last 22 games and miss the playoffs, one of the biggest late-season collapses for a team that was contending for a division title in March.
- For the first time since 1985–86, no team won fewer than twenty games. The Chicago Bulls and Golden State Warriors shared the league's worst record of 21–61. This had however previously occurred during every season between 1973–74 and 1978–79 and again from 1983–84 to 1985–86 inclusive.
- Former All-Star Jayson Williams was charged with the murder of his limousine driver on February 14. He was immediately fired from his spot on NBC's Verizon Wireless at the Half shortly after appearing on TV during the All-Star Game the previous week.
- Marv Albert and Mike Fratello were involved in a limousine crash prior to the start of the 2002 Playoffs and were unable to announce for NBC. Albert returned to announce the 2002 Western Conference Finals and NBA Finals.
- The 2002 NBA Playoffs featured several controversial last-second shots. During Game 4 of the series between the Charlotte Hornets and Orlando Magic, Baron Davis hit a three-pointer at the buzzer that should have counted, but was waved off. Later, Reggie Miller of the Indiana Pacers was awarded a game-tying three-pointer from half-court against the New Jersey Nets that should not have counted, but was. In the Western Conference Finals between the Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Lakers, Lakers forward Samaki Walker hit a three-pointer to end the half that should not have counted (the three points would later haunt the Kings as Robert Horry won the game on a last second shot). After the playoffs ended, it was decided that instant replay was needed in the NBA. In addition, the NBA installed red light beams on the backboard to determine the end of the shot clock and/or the game clock.
- The Los Angeles Lakers were crowned champions at the end of the season, but the Sacramento Kings were viewed as the better team going into the series. Former referee Tim Donaghy revealed that he knew some of the referees of game 6 of that seven game series, and that they were "company men". Those referees were always doing what was in best interest of the league, and extending the series was an easy decision to make more money for the NBA in 2002. The Lakers attempted 40 free throws in game 6 in comparison to the Kings' 25 attempts, and 27 in the fourth quarter alone. Stretching the series allowed for the Western Conference Finals to reach a Game 7, which would be the first and only one of the entire playoffs.
- This season marked the first time the league's scoring leader (in this case Allen Iverson) failed to make the All-NBA First Team.
- This was the last season the NBA Playoffs first round format was a best of five game series, it was changed in the 2003 NBA Playoffs to a best of seven game series, like the other rounds of the playoffs.
- The Zone Defense was legalized.
- The Defensive three-second violation was introduced.
2001–02 NBA changes
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- z – Clinched home court advantage for the entire playoffs
- c – Clinched home court advantage for the conference playoffs
- y – Clinched division title
- x – Clinched playoff spot
Teams in bold advanced to the next round. The numbers to the left of each team indicate the team's seeding in its conference, and the numbers to the right indicate the number of games the team won in that round. The division champions are marked by an asterisk. Home court advantage does not necessarily belong to the higher-seeded team, but instead the team with the better regular season record; teams enjoying the home advantage are shown in italics.
|First Round||Conference Semifinals||Conference Finals||NBA Finals|
* Division winner
Bold Series winner
Italic Team with home-court advantage
|Points per game||Allen Iverson||Philadelphia 76ers||31.4|
|Rebounds per game||Ben Wallace||Detroit Pistons||13.0|
|Assists per game||Andre Miller||Cleveland Cavaliers||10.9|
|Steals per game||Allen Iverson||Philadelphia 76ers||2.8|
|Blocks per game||Ben Wallace||Detroit Pistons||3.5|
|FG%||Shaquille O'Neal||Los Angeles Lakers||.579|
|FT%||Reggie Miller||Indiana Pacers||.911|
|3FG%||Steve Smith||San Antonio Spurs||.472|
- Most Valuable Player: Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
- Rookie of the Year: Pau Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies
- Defensive Player of the Year: Ben Wallace, Detroit Pistons
- Sixth Man of the Year: Corliss Williamson, Detroit Pistons
- Most Improved Player: Jermaine O'Neal, Indiana Pacers
- Coach of the Year: Rick Carlisle, Detroit Pistons
- Executive of the Year: Rod Thorn, New Jersey Nets
- Sportsmanship Award: Steve Smith, San Antonio Spurs
Players of the month
The following players were named the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Month.
|Month||Eastern Conference||Western Conference|
|October – November||Jason Kidd (New Jersey Nets) (1/1)||Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers) (1/1)|
|December||Paul Pierce (Boston Celtics) (1/2)
Antoine Walker (Boston Celtics) (1/1)
|Tim Duncan (San Antonio Spurs) (1/2)|
|January||Allen Iverson (Philadelphia 76ers) (1/1)||Chris Webber (Sacramento Kings) (1/1)|
|February||Tracy McGrady (Orlando Magic) (1/1)||Kevin Garnett (Minnesota Timberwolves) (1/1)|
|March||Ben Wallace (Detroit Pistons) (1/1)||Shawn Marion (Phoenix Suns) (1/1)|
|April||Paul Pierce (Boston Celtics) (2/2)||Tim Duncan (San Antonio Spurs) (2/2)|
Rookies of the month
The following players were named the Eastern and Western Conference Rookies of the Month.
|Month||Eastern Conference||Western Conference|
|October – November||Jamaal Tinsley (Indiana Pacers) (1/2)||Pau Gasol (Memphis Grizzlies) (1/3)|
|December||Brendan Haywood (Washington Wizards) (1/1)||Shane Battier (Memphis Grizzlies) (1/1)|
|January||Richard Jefferson (New Jersey Nets) (1/1)||Pau Gasol (Memphis Grizzlies) (2/3)|
|February||Trenton Hassell (Chicago Bulls) (1/1)||Jason Richardson (Golden State Warriors) (1/1)|
|March||Jamaal Tinsley (Indiana Pacers) (2/2)||Pau Gasol (Memphis Grizzlies) (3/3)|
|April||Željko Rebrača (Detroit Pistons) (1/1)||Gilbert Arenas (Golden State Warriors) (1/1)|
Coaches of the month
The following coaches were named Coaches of the Month.
|October – November||Larry Brown (Philadelphia 76ers) (1/1)|
|December||Doug Collins (Washington Wizards) (1/1)|
|January||Rick Adelman (Sacramento Kings) (1/1)|
|February||Rick Carlisle (Detroit Pistons) (1/1)|
|March||Gregg Popovich (San Antonio Spurs) (1/1)|
|April||Lenny Wilkens (Toronto Raptors) (1/1)|
- See Berri, David J., Brook, Stacey L., Frick, Bernd, Fenn, Aju J. and Vicente-Mayoral, Roberto; 'The Short Supply of Tall People: Competitive Imbalance and the National Basketball Association'; Journal of Economic Issues, Vol. 39, No. 4 (Dec., 2005), pp. 1029–1041