On January 22, 2006, Kobe Bryant etched his name into Los Angeles Lakers and NBA lore with an amazing 81 point performance against the Toronto Raptors.
Led by the heroics of Bryant, the 122-104 win was the high point an otherwise dull campaign by the Lakers – which re-hired Phil Jackson prior to the season and finished 45-37 for third in the Pacific Division, only to be bounced in the first round by the Phoenix Suns.
It has been 10 years since Bryant put up the second-highest single game total in NBA history, but for some it feels like yesterday – including the Raptors, which reportedly excluded the game from their tribute to Bryant in his last appearance in Toronto in their attempt at a revisionist history.
When asked recently about his exploits on that fateful January night, Bryant said to Los Angeles Daily News reporter Mark Medina that the game was ‘a blur’ to him.
“I didn’t really understand or was able to grasp what happened,” said Bryant. “It was very bizarre.”
“It means that anything is possible. Playing the game as a kid, you have a dream and even if the dreams are extremely wild and imaginative, you work hard. You believe certain nights like that can happen,” Bryant added.
During that 2005-06 NBA season, Bryant – who averaged 35.4 points per game – was surrounded by some of the forgotten names buried in Lakers history: Von Wafer, Smush Parker, Devin Green, Brian Cook, Kwame Brown, and Chris Mihm.
Nevertheless, despite attempts by the Toronto Raptors and some others who fell as the unfortunate victims of that night to an extraordinary night from Bryant, records of that game continue to exist.
Here is a quick look at all 81 points scored by Kobe Bryant, through NBA.com: