During his time with the Los Angeles Lakers, Devean George became a household name as a role player under head coach Phil Jackson. George had the unique experience of playing alongside Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal on one of the greatest NBA teams of all-time.
Along with winning three titles with the Lakers, George witnessed one of the greatest individual performances in NBA history. The Augsburg product saw Kobe’s most memorable moment first hand with the eventual five-time NBA champion scoring 81 points against the Toronto Raptors in 2006.
George talked about that historic night at the Staples Center in an article he wrote for The Players’ Tribune. The three-time champion claims there was quite a few myths floating around about Kobe’s 81-point game with one of them being that his teammates didn’t believe Bryant was capable of pulling off such a feat:
One of them is that Kobe came out of nowhere to score 81. When I hear people say, “Did you have any idea Kobe could get 81?” and I detect surprise in their voice, I answer, “We didn’t know when, but none of us really doubted that it was possible.”
With Bryant outscoring the Dallas Mavericks by himself with 62 points in three quarters a month earlier, it isn’t all that surprising that George or any of Kobe’s teammates believed he could put up 80 points or more.
Although the Lakers were ultimately knocked out of the playoffs in the first round by Steve Nash’s Phoenix Suns that year, Bryant put up some incredible numbers. Kobe averaged a career-high 35.4 points per game while shooting 45.0 percent from the floor.
Two years later, the Lakers acquire Pau Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies and become a Western Conference heavyweight once again. Bryant and Gasol quickly form one of the best one-two punches in the NBA eventually leading to three straight NBA Finals appearances and two more NBA titles.