Kobe Bryant‘s illustrious NBA career features many iconic moments that fuel his legendary status. His 81-point performance against the Toronto Raptors sits near the top of the list, as it remains the second-highest scoring single-game scoring output to Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 points. However, the Los Angeles Lakers star revealed a surprising detail that only further cements the impressive nature of the outing.
Kobe Bryant scores 81 points against the Raptors
Bryant’s 2005-06 campaign featured him taking his scoring to another level as he led the league with a career-best 35.4 points per contest.
The Lakers star highlighted his monstrous season with an unforgettable 81-point barrage against the Raptors. Los Angeles needed all of Bryant’s scoring to mount a comeback from an 18-point deficit. He shot a highly efficient 28-of-46 from the field, including hitting 7-of-13 from 3-point range and 18-of-20 from the free-throw line.
Bryant scored 55 points in the second half, accounting for all but 18 of his team’s points. His legendary performance sits among the greatest single-game outings, which he revealed a surprising detail that only elevates it to another level.
Kobe Bryant shockingly admitted he felt ‘terrible’ before his legendary 81-point game
Bryant’s iconic scoring performance against the Raptors stands out as one of the greatest individual showings in NBA history.
However, Bryant didn’t exactly feel too confident that a big outing was coming that night. During an interview with longtime broadcaster Marv Albert, the Lakers star voiced that he felt physically “terrible” before the game due to a nagging knee injury.
“In the layup line I felt terrible,” Bryant said. “Aww man, my knee was really sore and really stiff. I felt like I was going to have to utilize my jump shot to start the game until my knee loosened up a bit if it did. I was able to tip-toe to the basket a little bit then my knee loosened up and I was able to get into a groove.”
Bryant was dealing with a right knee injury that he eventually required arthroscopic surgery repaired in the summer, marking the third time he underwent an operation. The ailment forced him to miss the 2006 FIBA World Championships in Japan with the USA men’s basketball team.
Despite that, Bryant pushed through it to string together an incredible offensive. It remains the standard for the modern generation of players. The masterful performance speaks to the Lakers star’s grit and mental fortitude to push through injuries to pull the most out of himself.
It’s another part of his legacy that will forever live on well beyond his illustrious NBA career.
Kobe Bryant felt another player could score 81 points
Since Bryant scored 81 points against the Raptors, no player has surpassed the second-highest single-game scoring output.
The Lakers star initially voiced that he didn’t believe any player could notch 100 points in a game. However, Bryant expressed in February 2012 that another player will one day match or beat his mark.
“I believe so,” Bryant said via ESPN. “One day it will happen.”
Devin Booker has come the closest to reaching that mark, with 70 points in the loss to Boston Celtics in March 2017. After that, Bryant’s 65-point night against the Portland Trail Blazers in March 2007 is the highest-scoring performance.
Meanwhile, Stephen Curry scored 62 points against the Blazers in January 2021, while Carmelo Anthony dropped 61 points against the then-Charlotte Bobcats in January 2014. Other star players such as Damian Lillard (three), James Harden (four), Bradley Beal (one), Klay Thompson (one), Jayson Tatum (one), LeBron James (one) have tallied 60-point outings.
The NBA possesses no shortage of offensive talent with Lillard, Curry, and Harden, who have recorded historic nights. It’s just a matter of the stars aligning for one special performance.