2001–02 NBA season

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2001–02 NBA season
League National Basketball Association
Sport Basketball
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
Regular season
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 (Los Angeles Lakers)
NBA seasons

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.

Notable occurrences

Coaching changes
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 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 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 the new Charlotte team beginning in 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 2016–17 only former ABA team to have never reached the NBA Finals.
  • 2001–02 is one of the most memorable 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 both shared the league's worst record at 21–61. This had however previous occurred every season from 1973–74 to 1978–79 and from 1983–84 to 1985–86.[1]
  • Former All-Star Jayson Williams was charged with the murder of his limo 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.
  • 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.


By division

By conference


  • 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
E1 New Jersey* 3  
E8 Indiana 2  
  E1 New Jersey* 4  
  E4 Charlotte 1  
E4 Charlotte 3
E5 Orlando 1  
  E1 New Jersey* 4  
Eastern Conference
  E3 Boston 2  
E3 Boston 3  
E6 Philadelphia 2  
  E3 Boston 4
  E2 Detroit* 1  
E2 Detroit* 3
E7 Toronto 2  
  E1 New Jersey* 0
  W3 LA Lakers 4
W1 Sacramento* 3  
W8 Utah 1  
  W1 Sacramento* 4
  W4 Dallas 1  
W4 Dallas 3
W5 Minnesota 0  
  W1 Sacramento* 3
Western Conference
  W3 LA Lakers 4  
W3 LA Lakers 3  
W6 Portland 0  
  W3 LA Lakers 4
  W2 San Antonio* 1  
W2 San Antonio* 3
W7 Seattle 2  

* Division winner
Bold Series winner
Italic Team with home-court advantage

Statistics leaders

Category Player Team Stat
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 2.80
Blocks per game Ben Wallace Detroit Pistons 3.48
FG% Shaquille O'Neal Los Angeles Lakers .579
FT% Reggie Miller Indiana Pacers .911
3FG% Steve Smith San Antonio Spurs .472

NBA awards

Yearly awards

Players of the month

The following players were named the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Month.

Month Eastern Conference Western Conference
1October – November Kidd, JasonJason Kidd (New Jersey Nets) (1/1) Bryant, KobeKobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers) (1/1)
2December Pierce, PaulPaul Pierce (Boston Celtics) (1/2)
Walker, AntoineAntoine Walker (Boston Celtics) (1/1)
Duncan, TimTim Duncan (San Antonio Spurs) (1/2)
3January Iverson, AllenAllen Iverson (Philadelphia 76ers) (1/1) Webber, ChrisChris Webber (Sacramento Kings) (1/1)
4February McGrady, TracyTracy McGrady (Orlando Magic) (1/1) Garnett, KevinKevin Garnett (Minnesota Timberwolves) (1/1)
5March Wallace, BenBen Wallace (Detroit Pistons) (1/1) Marion, ShawnShawn Marion (Phoenix Suns) (1/1)
6April Pierce, PaulPaul Pierce (Boston Celtics) (2/2) Duncan, TimTim 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
1October – November Tinsley, JamaalJamaal Tinsley (Indiana Pacers) (1/2) Gasol, PauPau Gasol (Memphis Grizzlies) (1/3)
2December Haywood, BrendanBrendan Haywood (Washington Wizards) (1/1) Battier, ShaneShane Battier (Memphis Grizzlies) (1/1)
3January Jefferson, RichardRichard Jefferson (New Jersey Nets) (1/1) Gasol, PauPau Gasol (Memphis Grizzlies) (2/3)
4February Hassell, TrentonTrenton Hassell (Chicago Bulls) (1/1) Richardson, JasonJason Richardson (Golden State Warriors) (1/1)
5March Tinsley, JamaalJamaal Tinsley (Indiana Pacers) (2/2) Gasol, PauPau Gasol (Memphis Grizzlies) (3/3)
6April Rebrača, ŽeljkoŽeljko Rebrača (Detroit Pistons) (1/1) Arenas, GilbertGilbert Arenas (Golden State Warriors) (1/1)

Coaches of the month

The following coaches were named Coaches of the Month.

Month Coach
1October – November Brown, LarryLarry Brown (Philadelphia 76ers) (1/1)
2December Collins, DougDoug Collins (Washington Wizards) (1/1)
3January Adelman, RickRick Adelman (Sacramento Kings) (1/1)
4February Carlisle, RickRick Carlisle (Detroit Pistons) (1/1)
5March Popovich, GreggGregg Popovich (San Antonio Spurs) (1/1)
5April Wilkens, LennyLenny Wilkens (Toronto Raptors) (1/1)


  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
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