During the 2005-06 season, LA Lakers legend Kobe Bryant cemented himself as one of the greatest scorers in NBA history. On January 22, 2006, Bryant scored 81 points at Staples Center against the Toronto Raptors.
Only the great Wilt Chamberlain has scored more points than Bryant in a game. The iconic big man poured in 100 points on March 2, 1962.
Not only did Kobe Bryant put on a historic performance against the Raptors, but he had a special person in attendance who had never seen him play in the NBA before.
Kobe Bryant only had 26 points at halftime
Many people forget that Kobe Bryant only had 26 points at halftime during his 81-point night. The Black Mamba went off for 55 points in the second half to lead the Lakers to a come-from-behind victory over the Raptors. LA won by a final score of 122-104.
Bryant played 41 minutes and shot 28-of-46 from the field, 7-of-13 from beyond the arc, and 18-of-20 from the free-throw line. The superstar shooting guard only had three turnovers and finished with six rebounds and three steals.
In the first quarter, Bryant put up 14 points. He notched 12 points in the second quarter to get to 26 at halftime. It wasn’t until the third and fourth quarter when Bryant turned into Superman. Kobe scored 27 points in the third and 28 in the fourth to get to 81. The Raptors had zero answers for Bryant, who was a man on a mission to will his Lakers to a victory at home.
One of the reasons Kobe Bryant was so motivated to play well that night in 2006 is because he had a family member watching his game for the first time in the pros. The five-time champion revealed this tidbit in 2013 when he rewatched his 81-point game and tweeted about it.
Kobe Bryant’s grandma watched his 81-point game
In 2013 when he was live-tweeting his 81-point game, Kobe Bryant revealed that his grandma watched the contest at Staples Center. It was the only game his grandma watched him play during his Hall of Fame career.
Incredibly, Bryant had the best outing of his career with his grandma in attendance. Not even Kobe, though, could have predicted he would drop 81 points. It just goes to show how locked in Bryant was against the Raptors.
The Lakers wound up going 45-37 during the 2005-06 season. Kobe Bryant averaged 35.4 points per game. LA made the playoffs but lost to the Phoenix Suns in the first round in seven games.
The Black Mamba’s death anniversary is going to be very emotional
Kobe and Gigi Bryant’s death anniversary will be very emotional for everyone in the sports world. It’s almost been a year since Kobe passed away, but it still doesn’t seem real that he’s no longer with us.
Kobe finished his Lakers career with averages of 25.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.7 assists. He won five championships, two Finals MVPs, and was named a Hall of Famer in 2020. Kobe won his first three titles with Shaquille O’Neal and his final two with Pau Gasol.
Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant are universally recognized as the two greatest shooting guards in NBA history. Many believe Jordan, along with Phil Jackson and Vanessa Bryant, will play a large role in Kobe’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.