Perhaps the greatest performance of all-time in an NBA game. 81. When you hear the number without even knowing its context, just about every die-hard sports fan thinks about that January 22, 2006 night in the Staples Center when the Mamba really got loose. Through the years Kobe Bryant had extraordinary games and performances, however there is nothing that can compare to the masterpiece that is 81.
Hitting 28 of his 46 shots from the field and 18 of his 20 free throws, Kobe did the unthinkable to the Toronto Raptors posting the second highest point total in an NBA game. But was it the greatest performance ever? Many will certainly point to Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 point game of 1962, but unfortunately there is no video footage and the overall domination of the game is left up to the interpretation of words that are described by reporters and fans who “claimed” to have been in attendance. In examining Wilt’s numbers, 36 of 63 from the field, 28 of 32 from the line, it appears that Kobe’s night was actually more efficient.
Of course I would be remiss if I didn’t examine how this compares to Kobe’s most often comparison, one Michael Jordan. If there is one game that indeed stacks up to the infamous 81-point game, it would be MJ’s 69-point game versus the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1990. Besides it being his career high, Michael shot an efficient 23 of 37 from the field, but also added a ridiculous 18 rebounds, 6 assists, and four steals. Granted Jordan needed an extra frame added to his game as the Bulls defeated the Cavs 117-113 in overtime. But who was better?
The footage is provided for you to decide. Which performance do you think was greatest, 81 or 69-18-6-4?