On Feb. 2, 2009 Kobe Bryant put on of his greatest performances in the World’s Most Famous Arena. It was then when Bryant set the then- Madison Square Garden scoring record by dropping 61 points.
His scoring helped the Lakers to a 126-117 win over the New York Knicks. His final stat line for the game was 61 points, on 19-of-31 shooting, three assists, and one block. Pau Gasol also chipped in with 31 points and 14 rebounds.
Kobe scored 34 points in the first half alone and helped the Lakers to a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter by scoring 15 points in the final period.
What was even more impressive was that the Lakers were without Andrew Bynum, who was out with a knee injury. Bynum was playing really well at the time he got hurt, so that placed more of an offensive burden on Bryant and Gasol.
His performance was so mesmerizing for the fans of New York they shouted “MVP!” at Bryant throughout the game. The most points he scored at MSG before this game was 46 points in 2003.
It was a historical moment because when you think of Madison Square Garden, you think of the great players like Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, Hakeem Olajuwon and many more who have played there, and yet no one was able to accomplish what Bryant did on that night.
It is a reminder of the greatness Bryant displayed throughout his illustrious career. He is a once-in-a-lifetime player who helped shape the NBA into what it is today. There will never be another like him.
As with all things, nothing is meant to last. Bryant’s 61-point record was broken when current Knicks star, Carmelo Anthony, scored 62 points in January of 2014. Bryant’s record still stands as the most points scored by an opposing player at the Garden.