By James Jackson, NBA International
Ten years ago, Kobe Bryant put himself in a class of two. With 81 points (28-46 FG, 7-13 3PT, 18-20 FT) against the Toronto Raptors on 22 Jan 2006 – the second-biggest scoring performance in NBA history – Kobe Bryant unleashed a scoring barrage comparable to only Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point spectacle in 1962.
Before and since, many NBA greats have caught fire in historic form, like Michael Jordan’s 63-point playoff masterpiece at Boston Garden, or David Robinson’s 71-point display to edge Shaq for the 1994 scoring title (or Kobe’s 65 in 2006-07). Even so, Bryant’s night — and ultimately his season — took on its own legend, practically earning its own chapter in NBA lore.
As The Mamba’s 81-point anniversary coincides with his farewell campaign, perspective allows us to share 10 facts about his historic night, 2005-06 season, and career:
1) En-route to 81 points, Kobe scored 55 points in the second half. In the 10 years since, only nine players have scored at least 55 points over an entire game, with only three (LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Gilbert Arenas) topping 60.
2) The Mamba’s 81-point night marked the only time in NBA history a player made at least 25 field-goals, five 3-pointers and 15 free throws in a single game.
3) During the 2005-06 season, teams failed to score at least 81 points 206 times.
4) The Mamba became one of five players (joining Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, Bob McAdoo and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) to score at least 2,800 points in a single season, including a career-best 180 3-pointers.
5) Averaging 43.4 points in January 2006, Bryant record the highest-scoring month since Wilt Chamberlain’s 45.8-point mark in March 1963.
6) Vino entered the 2005-06 season with 30 career 40-point games in his previous nine NBA campaigns. He finished with 27 that season, and the Lakers were 18-9 in such games. Bryant also registered five 50-point games in his previous nine seasons, exceeding that total in 2005-06 with six such games.
7) In the 10 games in which he made at least five 3-pointers, Bryant averaged 46.3 points, shooting 53 percent overall, 56 percent on 3-pointers and 81.3 percent on free throws.
8) Bryant’s 27 40-point games were the highest single-season total since 1986-87, when Jordan totaled 37 such games. The Mamba’s 35.4-point scoring average was the highest since MJ averaged 37.1, also in 1986-87.
9) In April 2006, Bryant averaged 41.6 points on 51 percent shooting, making 41.3 percent of his 3-pointers. He joined Wilt Chamberlain as the only players in NBA history with multiple months averaging 40 points. The Big Dipper achieved the feat 11 times.
10) Over the 2005-06 season, Bryant became the only player in NBA history to make 900 field-goals, 150 3-pointers, 600 free throws, and score at least 2,500 points over a single season. Only Kevin Durant has come close to this mark, making 849 field-goals in 2014.