When you think of the NBA Finals over the years, you likely imagine two juggernaut basketball teams littered with All-Stars and Hall of Famers competing throughout a grueling, hard-fought series. Like Magic’s Lakers vs. Bird’s Celtics. Jordan’s Bulls vs. the Stockton/Malone Jazz. LeBron’s Cavs vs. Steph’s Warriors. What you don’t think about is what we got in 2002 between the Los Angeles Lakers and New Jersey Nets ... because that was the Worst NBA Finals Ever.
The Nets had won the East almost by default. Without facing a single 50-win team in their postseason run leading up to the Finals — and still nearly getting knocked out in the first round — New Jersey was a team lacking star power. Sure, Jason Kidd’s inaugural campaign in Jersey helped them double their win total from the previous season. But the rest of the roster left a lot to be desired, as the Nets became the first team since 1953 to reach the Finals without a single player averaging at least 15 points per game.
Contrast that with their opponent, the star-studded Lakers going for a three-peat, and you get a series with two teams as diametrically opposed as the cities they’re based in. The result? Shaq and Kobe combined for 252 points in the four-game sweep. New Jersey’s starting five only put up 293.