Play Fantasy Use your Fantasy skills to win Cash Prizes. Join or start a league today. Play Now
Blog Entry

Better scoring night: Kobe's 81 or Wilt's 100?

Posted on: March 2, 2012 9:10 am
Edited on: March 2, 2012 11:54 am
Posted by Royce Young

In what world has 81 ever been better than 100? Maybe when you're talking about temperature, but not much after that.

But here's a time that 81 was greater than 100: Kobe Bryant's epic scoring night matched against Wilt Chamberlain's all-time point barrage.

Never would I imply that what Chamberlain did 50 years ago wasn't impressive. Scoring 100 points in a game isn't just impressive. It's drinking-a-gallon-of-milk impressive. It's something that's darn near impossible to do and takes a special, near superhuman individual to pull it off.

Still, Kobe's 81 was better.

Why? You could almost make a strong case that Chamberlain's hundred should include an asterisk. First, and this is unfair to Chamberlain, but none of us saw it happen. We don't know what it looked like, what it felt like, how that game went. There's no footage of it at all, only a little audio of him scoring the hundredth point.

Actually, it might be a good thing we never saw it. Because from accounts of how it went down, the Warriors spent almost the entire fourth quarter fouling to get the ball back and force-feeding Chamberlain the ball. New York coach Eddie Donovan said, "The game was a farce. They would foul us and we would foul them." Chamberlain's shot attempts by quarter: 14, 12, 16, 21. You think in a blowout in today's game that a team would keeping feeding their star like that?

Plus, the pace of the game in 1962 was far faster than was Kobe was playing with in 2006. Chamberlain had more possessions in the up-and-down game. There were 316 combined points in that game. It would take today's Lakers almost a month to score that many. (I kid, I kid.)

Then you have to consider that Chamberlain's points came easier. He was a post player that could be fed the ball and overwhelm his opponents. Kobe is a perimeter player that had to handle it and score by creating his own either off the dribble or with a jumper. Chamberlain overpowered smaller teams and smaller players. At times, it was like a college guy playing against middle school kids. Truly a man among boys. Chamberlain could just have his way.

It's no coincidence that when you browse the top point totals in a game, Wilt's name litters the list. It was a long time coming that he'd finally top the century mark. He scored at will because there was only one other player in the game -- Bill Russell -- that could really stop him. The guy that played most of the night against him -- Darrall Imhoff -- stood no chance. Not to discredit the talent pool in the 60s, but Chamberlain wasn't exactly facing elite big men every night.

Nobody will ever match what Chamberlain did though. Like DiMaggio's hit streak or Favre's consecutive games streak, it's one of those unbreakable records. The reason mainly is because nobody would have the gall to do what the Warriors did to get him there. Playing out the game in a blowout, blatantly running up the score, fouling to get the ball back -- can you imagine what would happen if someone did that today?

Say LeBron was going off and had 75 points after three quarters. The Heat are up 30. Erik Spoelstra leaves LeBron out there to pound the opponent, all while Dwyane Wade and Shane Battier take fouls so LeBron gets more shots. There would be week long panels devoted to ripping the team that did it. I think the Hall of Fame might have to make room for a new exhibit honoring the most explosive media backlash in professional sport history.

Kobe's 81 had everything going for it. It was a close game and Bryant just completely took over. The Lakers were down 71-53 and Kobe brought them back. He wasn't ever intentionally fouled, and he team didn't do much of anything other than give him the ball and get out of the wya. He played until the end, checking out with just a few seconds remaining. And despite playing a darn near perfect game with all the factors lining up, Kobe was still 19 points short. Consider this: After Kobe, the next highest total is 78 by Chamberlain, then 73 by David Thompson and Chamberlain. Even the greatest ever, Michael Jordan, topped out at 69. There's just no chance of anyone ever sniffing 100 points in a game again.

Still, Kobe's 81 was better.

The Mamba took 17 fewer shots, 12 fewer free throws, didn't have his team fouling to get him the ball, had fewer possessions and still only came up 19 short of Wilt. He scored 55 points after halftime. That's only 14 short of Jordan's career-high. Forget what math and maybe common sense tells you. Eight-one is greater than 100.

Since: Jun 9, 2009
Posted on: March 2, 2012 2:13 pm

Better scoring night: Kobe's 81 or Wilt's 100?

Lakers were up  17 with 5 min left against a terrible team, kobe had 70 points than and they kept him in and fed him everyshot the rest of the game...thats running up the score if you ask me.

Since: Jan 17, 2008
Posted on: March 2, 2012 2:08 pm

Better scoring night: Kobe's 81 or Wilt's 100?

I can't believe some of the comments here, especially the ones saying there is no film of Wilt ever playing. Look for the video of him when he played with the Globetrotters in what would have been his senior year at Kansas. He played guard for them. Watch him run the court and dribble between his legs on the break. Yes he was thin as a rail then but his strength even then was legendary. Read what Jerry West said about his ability to shoot from the outside.  Most of those who knew him well were convinced he hardly ever played at 100% effort, if ever that is, as he was afraid he would have hurt people. His athletic ability was off the charts then and would still be now. Teams weren't trying to sign him whe he was 50 to play in the NBA cause he was a big stiff.

He could jump as well if not better than any big man ever. Legend has it took a quarter off the top of a backboard put into his other hand and back on down on the top at Rucker Park in NYC. If you don't know what Rucker is you know nothing about basketball to begin with.

According to his sister Wilt was embarassed about this record and wanted out the game but his coach wanted him to play till the end.

I loved the commnet that wanted to know if he made his free throws by dunking from the foul line. No they changed that rule well before that game. Yes that rule was made because of him. I am sure the person who wrote that thinks Jordan doing that was amazing, after running from beyond half court and yet Wilt could do it from a standing positon at the foul line easily.    &nbs

Since: Sep 19, 2006
Posted on: March 2, 2012 1:54 pm

Better scoring night: Kobe's 81 or Wilt's 100?

Kobe at his position and under the current rules - waaaaay more impressive.  When was the last time anyone even had 60?  Oh yeah, it was Kobe, and Kobe previous to that in 3 quarters.  He dominates the single-game scoring records of this era much as Wilt did when no players were even big enough to guard him.

Since: May 29, 2008
Posted on: March 2, 2012 1:52 pm

Better scoring night: Kobe's 81 or Wilt's 100?

Hey Zero-Cool,

So you OBVIOUSLY watched Chamberlain that night then.  Since your arguement is anyone who disagrees did NOT watch Kobe, I can only assume you watched BOTH???  Am I correct...or did I catch you making a ludicrous, invalid and contradictary point?

Wilt= UNDERrated

Kobe= OVERrated

Scoring 100 points isnt even close to Wilt's top feats anyway. (Like averaging almost 30 rebounds a game in one season...or if we count blocks averaging a triple double for his career!)

Since: Apr 4, 2010
Posted on: March 2, 2012 1:46 pm

Better scoring night: Kobe's 81 or Wilt's 100?

Wilt was playing when the average player was 6'3, and he was like a giant compared to most playing during the season in which he scored his 100.  It was and is a great feat!!  However, I doubt one shot went in from over ten feet away from the basket.  Kobe Bryant did have a three point line to help him, but he also could have missed those attempts as well, so they are deserved!!  The quality of athletes has gotten better as time has gone by.  They are bigger and stronger and faster. That is just a fact. Wilt Chamberlain should have done that a few times, if I am 7-0 or 7-1 and I am playing on average people much shorter than I, I just stand at the basket and dunk it everytime.  So coupled with the difficulty of Kobe's shot selection and today's athletes, his 81 point performance rings in as the best scoring night ever in basketball history, and it isn't even close.  Those who disagree obviously did NOT watch Kobe that night.

Since: May 29, 2008
Posted on: March 2, 2012 1:43 pm

Better scoring night: Kobe's 81 or Wilt's 100?

Wilt Chamberlain continues to be the most UNDERrated and most disrespected NBA player of all Time.  Take what #1 Cowboys (love the moniker, couldnt disagree more with your post though) says:

Wilt made a living scoring over 6'6" or 6'7" centers in the league that were physically overmatched.  Wilt was a man playing against boys most nights.  He didn't develop basketball skills to go with his 7'1" very agile body.  He only had a dunk, finger roll and fade away bank shot. He never learned how to shoot a basketball. He didn't need basketball skills because he was so much taller and stronger than his opponents.

Uh, just so you know... although there were not as many teams...the percentage of 7 foot centers was actually HIGHER back then than in todays game. And lets be for real...who is actually a good center in today's game?  Dwight Howard...PLEASE!!!  What do you think Wilt and Russell would have done to "Mr. Softie" ("I wanna go play where I can win.  WAAAAAA!!!")  Wilt actually played against ELEVEN centers that wound up in the Hall of Fame.  All of NONE of them were 6'6" or 6'7" as you say.

He didnt develop any basketball skills? REALLY?? And you claim this because why?  He only averaged 23 rebounds per game for his career?  He shot the ball at almost a 60% clip?  He led the league in assists one year?  Or was it that he averaged a triple double FOR HIS CAREER???  (Yes if they kept Blocked Shots as a category, Wilt would have averaged about 15 per game!!!)  Your right-- no skills there at all.  Also keep in mind that every rule that they chnaged from 1960-1970 was in direct response to how dominant Wilt was.  Instead of changing rules to enhance his game (see Jordan, Kobe, LeBron, etc).  They added rules to detract from Wilt's game.  Still didnt matter-- still dominated everyone!  And lets not forget about stamina--one year Wilt averaged 49 minutes a game!!!  (Yes there are only 48 minutes--but lets not forget the overtime games)

"He didnt need skills because he was so much taller and stronger".  Taller...NO, stonger...YES!  Is that his fault?  How about he was just BETTER!  The only stat you need to know about Wilt is that he NEVER foulded out of a game...EVER!!!  Not because he was taller, because he was just BETTER and didnt need to foul.  All you young guns crack me up.  You can have your LeBrons and Kobes (which is not just a joke but totally disrespectful to guys like Wilt, Russell, Oscar, Magic and Michael) as "the best player ever", the real best player ever (and it really shouldnt be an arguement...except there is no footage to see how truly great he was) is Wilt!

Since: Jul 2, 2009
Posted on: March 2, 2012 1:37 pm

Better scoring night: Kobe's 81 or Wilt's 100?

Still, Kobe's 81 was better.
They made the 3 point line so the little guys would stand a chance. 


Since: Jan 11, 2012
Posted on: March 2, 2012 1:30 pm

Better scoring night: Kobe's 81 or Wilt's 100?

Which is better, 81 or 100?  Think about it from this point of view.  Go to a fancy restaurant and try to pay for a meal that costs $100 with $ 81 and see how that flies.

Since: Nov 14, 2006
Posted on: March 2, 2012 1:25 pm

Better scoring night: Kobe's 81 or Wilt's 100?

"Why? You could almost make a strong case that Chamberlain's hundred should include an asterisk. First, and this is unfair to Chamberlain, but none of us saw it happen. We don't know what it looked like, what it felt like, how that game went. There's no footage of it at all, only a little audio of him scoring the hundredth point."

What would we do without CBS Sportsline and this kind of incisive analysis?

Since: Aug 16, 2006
Posted on: March 2, 2012 1:07 pm

Better scoring night: Kobe's 81 or Wilt's 100?

Kobe took 17 less shots. He would need to continue, considering fatigue etc., to make at least 10 of those shots to hit 100. 
And 12 less free throw attempts.  Had he made 10 of those, he'd only need to make 5 baskets as opposed to 10.  Had Kobe shot the ball as much and had as many free throws, he would have easily surpassed 100 points.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or