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.
Comments

Since: Mar 1, 2012
Posted on: March 2, 2012 4:00 pm
 

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

Joe Ruklick confirmed look-back reports that state the Knicks began fouling other players before Chamberlain could get the ball, but said it was not accurate that the Warriors began fouling Knicks in order to get the ball back more quickly. I can guarantee you that nobody was fouling others to keep Kobe from scoring. Get your facts straight before you make these wild claims. Joe Ruklick was actually playing in the game so he knows how it went down. And for the record is it a blowout if the final is 169-147? 22 points was the final spread but at this high of scoring pace in a game, it wouldn't be a safe lead until very late in the game.



Since: Sep 20, 2006
Posted on: March 2, 2012 3:58 pm
 

Typos...

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.



Since: Dec 23, 2006
Posted on: March 2, 2012 3:56 pm
 

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

BTW he DID average a triple double for his career.  If you read what I said, I pointed out that IF blocked shots were counted as a statistic the way they are today, Wilt would have averaged close to 15 per game, undeniable!
I've never heard that Wilt would've averaged 15 blocks a game!  That would be amazing if true.  I watched many, many Chamberlain games and don't remember that many blocks a game, but who knows, maybe its true.

I think the fact that he NEVER fouled out of a game shows that he had way more than just physical strength, but actually had superior skill. 
I think that is a pretty amazing fact, but I didn't look at that as always a positive thing.  Wilt was extremely agile, especially for a 7 footer.  But if you are pushing yourself on defense on every single play, you are going to commit fouls.  The fact that Wilt never fouled out of a game tells me he took plays off and didn't always push himself on every play.  And I remember watching games where Wilt played to preserve his record.  Toward the end of games he wouldn't take chances on defense that he should've taken, even getting comments out of Chick Hearn for his tentative play.

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Since: May 16, 2007
Posted on: March 2, 2012 3:45 pm
 

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

Where I come from scoring 100 is better than 81 every time.

How many 3's did Kobe make?

Even if Wilt was a 3 point shooter (and he wasn't) the "3" wasn't around then.

I love how new media pundits like to assert, this was better or that was better, like they know what the hell they are talking about.

If you want an interesting project - go back and figure out how many more points Pete Maravich would have added to his (still) record NCAA scoring title if the "3" would have been around then. I saw Maravich play a lot - many many of his shots were taken far oputside today's "3" line.

Are there any adults working at CBS Sportsline?



Since: Dec 23, 2006
Posted on: March 2, 2012 3:39 pm
 

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

Wilt had a higher percentage made..and that is what matters. 
Whoosh, actually Wilt made 36 of 63 shots or 57% and Kobe made 28 of 46 shots or 61%.  Since that is what matters....was Kobe's game better?  Especially since Kobe's shots were much, much tougher than Wilts dunks and finger rolls?



Since: May 29, 2008
Posted on: March 2, 2012 3:33 pm
 

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

GREAT response #1 Cowboys (still love that Moniker-- I'm drinkin a beer to you tonight at the Sixers-Warriors game when I'm there!!!)

You make some very vaild points.  Gald to hear you're an old timer like me.  However--if you think todays BIGS are better than the BIGS of old--I gotta disagree with you.  Just because you are 7 feet doesnt mean you can play basketball.  Yes the league is littered with 7 footers now-- but again most of them are STIFFS!  Being big doesnt mean you are talented.  Here is a list of some of the players Wilt matched up against in his career (although not all of them are exactly 7 feet-- I would think you would find it hard to argue that todays bigs are better than this list):

Russell
Kareem
Thurmond
W. Reed
Unseld
Hayes

I could go on, but I think I made my point.  I just cant stand people that say "Wilt didnt play against anyone thats why he was good".  Couldnt be a more innaccurate statement.

BTW he DID average a triple double for his career.  If you read what I said, I pointed out that IF blocked shots were counted as a statistic the way they are today, Wilt would have averaged close to 15 per game, undeniable!  That would give him career averages of 30 ppg, 23 rpg and 14 bpg.

I think the fact that he NEVER fouled out of a game shows that he had way more than just physical strength, but actually had superior skill.  Just sayin, but thanks for your post, I really liked it!
 



Since: Jul 29, 2008
Posted on: March 2, 2012 3:20 pm
 

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

Kobe's 81 and it's not even close. Wilt played with kids. Kobe played with adults. End of arguement



Since: May 15, 2007
Posted on: March 2, 2012 3:12 pm
 

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

Which is better?  100 points is better.
Which is more impressive?  Kobe's 81.  He shot a higher percentage from the field and the free throw line, all while brining his team from down 20 to up 20.  And we can see the difficulty of his shot selection where unfortunatly we can't see Wilts and will always be left to wonder how many of his shots were from outside of six feet.



Since: Oct 5, 2006
Posted on: March 2, 2012 3:11 pm
 

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

Both performances were incredible; however, 100 beats 81 any way you slice it.  

If you want credibility, you don't say 81 is better than 100 cause you saw 81 happen or cause of fewer shots or fewer FTs...all that is obvious; as you have fewer points.

Wilt had a higher percentage made..and that is what matters.  If it took Wilt 100 shots and Kobe 45; then you'd have a point.  But you don't.

You can argue Kobe took tougher shots...but you can also argue that Kobe has a 3pt shot that wasn't instituted in Wilt's day.  So why would Wilt take a tougher shot?  And Kobe could take less shots and accomplish more points; isn't that an advantage too?  Also, don't you think Wilt dealt with more contact under the rim than Kobe did shooter jumpers outside all day against the Raptors who didn't play much for D?  It is easier taking an uncontested jump shot than it is a layup with big guys banging you around.

Most folks were elated about Kobe's effort cause the number of shots it takes to get 81 and the clear energy.  Most players that are great scorers get fatigued and that is why it is hard to break 70.  Guys like Kobe on that one night...and Wilt on that famous night; could withstand it.  That is what is impressive; putting up those number of shots with a great percentage.  That indicates the clear energy these guys have and endurance.

This article just represented bias toward a fan of Kobe; instead of a Laker fan.  Didn't even have one decent argument in Kobe's favor.



Since: Dec 23, 2006
Posted on: March 2, 2012 3:03 pm
 

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

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.  
No he didn't have basketball skills...not like todays players.  He was the tallest player in the NBA for most of his career.  During the early 1960's there were 8 teams and only 3 players 7' tall, including Wilt.  He played against a 7' center on 2 other teams, neither player of note...Mel Counts and Reggie Harding aren't exactly HOF material.  The teams that didn't have 7 footers had centers that were 6'7 - 6'11''.  Today, there are 37 - 7 footers in the NBA, and that doesn't include Dwight Howard, Kevin Garnett or Tim Duncan.  Almost every team has at least 1 - 7 footer, sometimes 2 or more.  In the 60's Chamberlain was taller and stronger than all of his opponents and didn't need skills to dominate.  He had size and strength, but not much skill. Of course he could grab 23 rpg and shoot 60%.  So could a High School kid playing against 6th graders.  Chamberlain was head and shoulders above everyone else on the court and just parked under the basket.  BTW, he DIDN'T average a triple double FOR HIS WHOLE CAREER.  In his best year (when he lead the league in assists) he averaged 8 apg.  That wouldn't come close to leading the league in assists now.  For his career he averaged 4 apg.  It doesn't take skills to dominate when you are physically superior.

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!
I went to my first game in the 1960's and saw Wilt play against Walt Bellamy, so I'm no young gun.  Walt was one of the HOF centers you reference, and he wasn't a 7 footer either.  Wilt was dominant, but only because he was physically dominant.  LeBron, Kobe and Michael aren't physically dominant, but have to rely on basketball skills to dominate.


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