Kobe’s 81

It feels like you can’t click one page on the Internet today without seeing a list of Kobe’s Best Moments, Kobe’s Greatest Moments, Kobe’s Greatest-Best Moments. They’re everywhere. And there’s one item that’s on all them. That moment when Kobe scored 81 points on the Raptors.

In a way, it’s polarizing – because some people on a mission to hate Kobe see it as the ultimate display of ego and disregard for teammates. Like it takes a real jerk to shoot the ball 46 times in a game.

I don’t see it that way at all. Because I don’t care if he shot it 46 times or 106. The dude shot over 60% that night. And disregard for his teammates? As Kobe said that season “I almost won an MVP with Smush Parker and Kwame Brown on my team. I was shooting 45 times a game. What was I supposed to do? Pass to Chris Mihm?”

It’s true. That team was awful. Critics like to point out during that 81-point game that his teammates weren’t animated and celebrating on the bench. Go ahead and talk all you want about how they were or weren’t acting.

I’m paying attention to who they actually were – Sasha Vujacic, Von Wafer, Slava Medvedenko. I’m surprised Kobe didn’t go for 80+ every night.

It wasn’t the ultimate ego night. It was one of the greatest individual accomplishments the NBA has ever seen. This wasn’t Wilt the Stilt dropping a hundo on a bunch of dudes half his size, with no three-second violation. It was a GUARD… And for the record it was a clutch comeback win. Don’t think this was just Bryant out there trying to run up his numbers in a blowout. He single handedly erased an 18-point third quarter deficit to win that game.

Fact is- it might not have even been his most impressive scoring night. A month earlier against the Mavericks, Kobe had 62 in three quarters. The entire Dallas team had 61. And that was against a Mavs team that went to the NBA Finals. Kobe could have easily gotten to 80 or more that night… But Philip pulled him because the game was out of hand. Imagine if he’d hit 80 TWICE.

The craziest Kobe stat is that he’s scored 40+ on every team in the league. But his most dominant night was that one in Toronto. That wasn’t him being a bad teammate. It was him carrying a bad team. Why can’t some of you haters see it for what it was?

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