Lakers sweep the West, complete the most dominant title defense in Playoff History....
When you look at Lakers playoffs runs throughout the 2K Era, 2001 sticks out like a sore thumb and when you look at the roster, 1 player really stands out. Kobe
2001 Playoffs: 29.4PPG - 7.3Reb - 6.1Ast
Usage: 30.3 (1.16 Pts Per Possession) 25.0PER
Thats high level production with elite efficiency, specifically given the defensive era/competition. And as good as those numbers were, they dont illustrate just how utterly dominant Kobe was individually in the Western Conference:
After 3 collective sweeps; VS Trailblazers (9th Ranked Defense), VS Kings (7th Ranked Defense), VS Spurs (1st Ranked Defense)
Kobe put up:
VS The West: 31.6PPG - 7.0Reb - 6.2Ast
Usage: 31.8 (1.21 Pts Per Possession)
I dont know if Philly was better equipped to defend Kobe or if he was simply cooling down but no matter how you look at Kobe's run, there remains 2 questions left unanswered....
Where the **** did that come from and why did we never see that again?
Well I should clarify, its not so much that we didn't see that kind of dominance from him again, we did, but it came well later in his career, the phase of Kobe's career where most would consider his prime/peak. Those high scoring days along with his back to back chip runs. Individually, Kobe's greatest playoff run was in 09 at age 30, but isnt that somewhat expected? In his youth, Kobe has put up higher scoring averages, but he didn't combine the efficiency, rebounding, playmaking quite like he did in 01.
In the 6 seasons after that brilliant run, Kobes playoff averages look like so;
2002-2007 Playoffs: 27.5PPG - 5.3Reb - 5.0Ast
Usage: 30.8 (1.06 Pts Per Possession) 21.2 PER
Now those are still quality numbers, but they dont come close to historic and far from what Kobe put up in the following 3 years:
2008-2010 Playoffs: 29.8PPG - 5.7Reb - 5.5Ast
Usage: 33.0 (1.15 Pts Per Possession) 25.5 PER
Which brings us back to the initial question Where the **** did that blip come from?
From 97 till about 2003, Shaq's playoff production remained fairly constant, no doubt he had his best years during the 3-peat but there was no night and day level of efficiency. It seemed the difference between dismantling the entire league and simply competing (and winning) chips was the difference between Kobe playing at a normal superstar level or a high end level. Sounds obvious, the Shaqobe domination had no remorse for human life that year, but what made 2001 special?