Ten years ago today, Kobe Bryant scored 81 points against the Toronto Raptors, which was the second-most in NBA history. In a game where the Los Angeles Lakers were trailing by as much as 18 points in the third quarter, Bryant exploded for 55 points in the second half and led them to victory.
With Bryant in the final season of his future Hall of Fame career, the five-time champion reflected back on his 81-point performance. In the oral history by Arash Markazi of ESPN, Bryant believes he should have had at least 90 points and outlines how it was possible:
“I should have had 90 points or more. I missed two free throws after making 62 straight. I had some open looks. I had some really open looks that I missed. I could have had more. There’s a lot of easy opportunities I missed. I think 100 is possible. I absolutely do. If I hadn’t sat out those six minutes in the first half, maybe I would have had it.”
For most basketball fans, this is the highest scoring game they have watched from one player and no one has come close to threatening his career-high. Although the Lakers ultimately won 122-104, Los Angeles needed every point from Bryant as they were facing a double-digit deficit after coming out of halftime.
With this being Bryant’s final season, he and fans around the world have been able to reflect back on his greatest moments. As the season has reached its midway point, the farewell tour will continue as Bryant was named to his 18th All-Star appearance that will take place in Toronto on Feb. 14.