Kobe’s Monumental 81-point Game

Kobe Bryant's 81-point game against the Toronto Raptors turns 15 years old. Lajethro Jenkins takes us back to relive the game's moments and look back on a historical performance.

Video Transcript

- It's been 15 years since Kobe Bryant scored 81 points, putting up the second-highest scoring total and putting on the greatest offensive display the NBA's ever seen. The Lakers were extra mediocre that season. Well, everybody but Kobe. That man was going crazy.

He already dropped a 50-ball four times prior to this game, making this game his third in January alone. He averaged 43 a game that month. It was the craziest stretch of Kobe's craziest season. In December, he dropped 62 on the Mavs, outscoring their entire team in three quarters of play and sitting out the fourth. But a bigger storm was brewing. We just didn't know it.

The game felt so inconsequential, at least to everybody but Kobe. Very few people watched it live. I doubt that most people who weren't in the arena were even watching basketball. There were two NFL championships being played, and even one of the Lakers' play-by-play announcers was missing. Most of the Lakers themselves seemed not to care based on how the game started.

They were getting washed by the Raptors the first half to the point the fans started booing. Kobe's grandmother was in that crowd. It was the first and only time she'd see him live, and he wanted to put on a show. So the second half starts, and here comes Kobe.

He had 26 in the first half. In the third, he outscored that, putting up 27. And then dropping 28 in the fourth. He loved clowning Jalen, but everybody got buckets that night. And if I'm keeping it a buck, Mo Pete may have gotten it the worst.

When speaking in the postgame interview, Kobe said what he had done was unimaginable. But in 2013, he live tweeted this experience watching the game for the first time, highlighting his missed shots and free throws, saying he should have dropped 100.

Yes, he did what no one had done in 44 years and [? complained. ?] Yes, he found the [? halls ?] of the performance he himself once felt was unimaginable. Of course he did because that was Kobe.