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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 single-game scoring output under 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 on January 22, 2006. LA 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, 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, and he revealed a surprising detail that only elevates it to another level.

Kobe Bryant 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 off 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.”

At the time, Bryant was experiencing a right knee injury that eventually required arthroscopic surgery that summer, marking the third time he underwent an operation, as ESPN reports. 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.

Kobe Bryant felt another player could score 81 points

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant looks up at the basket during an NBA game
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant reacts to a play during an NBA game. | Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

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.”

Among current NBA players, Cleveland Cavaliers player Donovan Mitchell and Portland Trail Blazers player Damian Lillard have come the closest to reaching that mark. Mitchell scored 71 points against the Chicago Bulls, and Lillard scored 71 points against the Houston Rockets, both in 2023.
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The NBA possesses no shortage of offensive talent. It’s just a matter of the stars aligning for another special performance.

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