Although Kobe Bryant became the NBA’s best all-around player around the 2000-01 season, some fans and observers were still in denial by the 2005-06 campaign, even as he went on scoring outbursts the likes of which almost no one had put forth before.
One player such pundits seemed to favor over Bryant was the Philadelphia 76ers’ Allen Iverson, who had already racked up four scoring titles by then.
On Jan. 6, 2006, Iverson’s squad came to Staples Center to take on the Lakers, and Bryant would show everyone who the real king of basketball was.
He started off the game hot, scoring 14 points in the first quarter as Los Angeles took a 37-22 lead, and at halftime he had already put in 24 points.
His onslaught only continued afterward, as his 24 second-half points gave him 48 for the game on 19-of-29 shooting overall and 7-of-7 from 3-point range. It all led to a 119-93 Lakers rout.
But when it came to his personal fireworks that season, Bryant was just getting started.