Remembering Kobe’s 81

SPOILER alert! Kobe Bryant has a reputation for being a ball hog. The former Laker great attempted over 26,000 shots during his career on way to numerous stat sheet stuffing nights in the NBA. Of all his accolades though one box score stands out. 11 years ago today Kobe dropped 81 points on the Toronto Lakers, the second highest scoring output in NBA history.

THERE are plenty of Kobe Bryant haters that quickly jump down his throat for his ‘selfishness’ throughout the mid 00’s, as his team struggled to experience success once Shaq departed. But this epic game on January 22nd 2006 in a sense sums up Kobe’s career. One fact many people forget about that match was that the Lakers trailed 63-49 going into the 2nd half and that’s when Kobe turned it on. He managed to score 55 of his 81 points in the second half to drag his team back to victory. For all his ball hogging and personal stat padding, above all, Kobe just wanted to win. If he had to take 50 shots to get the job done so be it. If he needed to score 81 so be it. He was a cold-blooded assassin, period.

FAST forward to the present and today’s Los Angeles Lakers celebrated the anniversary of Kobe’s epic performance¬†with their worst loss in franchise history, getting blown away by Dallas 122-73. They could have definitely used his dominance on a night where they made the same amount of total¬†field goals as he did back on that fateful night in ’06 (28). The question that always comes up when discussing Bryant’s record-breaking night is can anyone top this mark? The Golden State Warriors look like any one of Durant, Curry or Thompson could do so if they get hot, and in an era when players are pulling up in transition as soon as they cross half court who knows. Personally, I think that Kobe’s mark is safe. Players lack that mentality to go for the kill and pour in 50+ points in a half and they want to get more. There is always the next game to think about or the fact that if the player gets injured it will all be for nothing. The ‘Mamba Mentality’ is what allowed Kobe to go on such a colossal scoring binge and until someone shows flashes of possessing a similar mindset Bryant’s 81 won’t be scratched.

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