Five years ago tomorrow, Kobe Bryant did something amazing. Something only one other player in NBA history has done better. Kobe scored 81 points in one game against the Toronto Raptors.
Eight-one points. I mean, think about that. Last night the Dallas Mavericks scored 77 as a team against the Bulls. The Milwaukee Bucks are only averaging 10 more than that a game this season. Yet Kobe put up 81 stinking points.
Just look at the box score from that night. Kobe was 28-46 from the field, 7-13 from 3, 18-20 from the free throw line and played 42 minutes. Kobe scored 14 in the first, 12 in the second, 27 in the third and 28 in the fourth. That's 55 points after halftime. The Lakers actually trailed by 18 in the third quarter, which ticked off Kobe. So he went off. Eventually the Lakers poured it on, beating the Raptors 122-104.
Michael Jordan's career high was 69 points, and only four players had ever scored more than 70 -- Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, David Thompson and David Robinson. Kobe's previous career-high was 62 against the Mavericks a month earlier. And he actually sat out the entire fourth quarter of that game.
An even more interesting note from that game? Chris Mihm, Kwame Brown and Smush Parker all started. I think you can kind of understand why Kobe scored 81 now, can't you?
That Laker team was one of the worst over the past decade, struggling to a 45-37 record only behind Kobe's huge scoring binges. That season he scored more than 50 five times. He averaged 35.4 ppg for the season. The closest he's come to duplicating the 81 was when he scored 65 against Portland in 2007.
After the game, Kobe said, "Not even in my dreams. That was something that just happened. It's tough to explain. It's just one of those things.
"It really hasn't, like, set in for me. It's about the `W,' that's why I turned it on. It turned into something special. To sit here and say I grasp what happened, that would be lying."Five years later, I'm still not sure we can grasp what happened.