NBA: Remembering Kobe Bryant's 81-point game
- Kobe Bryant's 81-point game was an incredible achievement even after taking into account his record-breaking career.
Born 23 August 1978, Kobe Bryant is regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time. He entered the NBA directly after high school, and was the 13th overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft.
He was initially snapped up by the Charlotte Hornets, who traded him to the Los Angeles Lakers, where he played his entire 20-year career. Kobe played at the Shooting Guard position, and he is the only guard in NBA history to play at least 20 seasons.
Kobe's playing style and build were very similar to Michael Jordan, and he was often compared to the latter. Nicknamed 'The Black Mamba', Kobe holds a plethora of records and is known as a dominant scorer.
Kobe scored 33,643 total points - the third highest in NBA history.
On 26 January 2006, Kobe produced one of the greatest individual performances in modern NBA history, against the Toronto Raptors. 'The Dagger' scored an incredible 81 points, breaking Elgin Baylor's long-standing franchise record of 71 points. Kobe's mark was also the second highest points scored in a single NBA game by a player, after Wilt Chamberlain's 100 points in a 1962 game.
Kobe led his team to a comeback victory in front of a fired-up home crowd.
The Lakers trailed at halftime by 14 points, but managed to make a comeback in the third to lead 91-85. They then ended the game in the final quarter with a 122-104 margin.
By the second half of the game, Kobe had already scored 55 points, and he followed that by 27 points in the third quarter and 28 points in the fourth, shooting 28-of-46 field goals and 7-of-13 three-pointers. He played a total of 42 minutes and scored an incredible 66.39% of the total points along with 6 rebounds and 2 assists as well.
When asked about his phenomenal performance after the game, Kobe replied, "Not even in my dreams, that was something that just happened. It's tough to explain. It's just one of those things."
Kobe Bryant retired in 2016; in his last game for the Lakers, he played against the Utah Jazz and scored 60 points (his sixth) in front of a sold out crowd at Staples Center.
Kobe led the Lakers to five NBA Championships, and is remembered as an icon of modern basketball.
Here's a video recap of Kobe's astonishing 81-point game: