Blistering Toronto for 81 points Sunday, Kobe Bryant still fell 19 points short of Wilt Chamberlain's biggest single scoring night. And he doesn't figure to approach the Big Dipper's other legendary round number -- the 20,000 partners Chamberlain indelicately and outrageously claimed to have frolicked with.
Given the problems Bryant had a couple of summers ago with just one of those, he isn't going to want to get anywhere near Wilt's off-court boast total.
In terms of on-the-court excellence, though, Bryant's performance in the Lakers' 122-104 victory was stunning in the context of the NBA of 2005-06:
- When Chamberlain scored 100 points against the New York Knicks in Hershey, Pa., on that March night in 1962, NBA teams averaged 118.8 across the league. His Warriors team, which scored 169 points in that game, averaged 122.7. Nowadays, teams average 96.6 points and the Lakers were at 97.8 when they stepped on the floor Sunday. So Bryant got closer to matching his team's average than Chamberlain did.
- The Lakers, en masse, have failed to score 81 points in five games this season. The other 29 NBA teams have combined for 83 other games in which they didn't post 81.
- Bryant outscored the Raptors in the second half, all by himself, 55-41. When Chamberlain scored 59 of his 100 after halftime, the Knicks at least managed 79.
- Bryant outscored Toronto's starting lineup, 81-80. But then, so did Wilt vs. Richie Guerin and the Knicks, 100-91.
- Chamberlain, after his 100-point night, wound up averaging 50.4 points in that 1961-62 season. Bryant, after scoring 81, was averaging 35.9 points, meaning he topped his average by a far bigger percentage than the Dipper did.
- Bryant planted a flag high on the NBA's Mount Everest of scoring, second only to Chamberlain's triple-digit dazzler. He scored 10 more than Elgin Baylor at his best, 12 more than Michael Jordan, 13 more than Pistol Pete Maravich and 17 more than Rick Barry on his hot night in Oakland in 1974. George Mikan never scored more than 61, and neither did Karl Malone. Larry Bird topped out at 60.
Half the fun of Bryant's fireworks Sunday was the reactions throughout the NBA. These jaded millionaires, rarely impressed by anything short of a Maybach sedan or a Victoria's Secret model, sounded like little kids and gushing fans when asked about Bryant's stunner.
"How many minutes did he play, 42? If he had an overtime game, maybe (100 would be possible)," New Jersey guard Jason Kidd said.
"Wow. That's all I can say," Kidd's teammate, Vince Carter, said.
Detroit's Chauncey Billups said: "If you have it going, you're supposed to keep it going. ... Unbelievable."
"Everybody was calling," said Miami guard Dwyane Wade, who got updates by cell phone while dining at a restaurant. "Everybody called every player in the league."