Monday, January 23, 2006

Kobe's 81: The Best Ever?


In case you're just rolling out of bed, hungover from Conference Championship Sunday, let me be the first to inform you that Kobe Bryant dropped a Laker record 81 points last night. Here's his final stat line:

28-46 from the floor
7-13 from three
18-20 free throws
26 in the 1st half, 55 for the 2nd


So the obvious question we need to ask this morning, is whether or not this is the greatest single-game performance in league history. We're all aware that Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in a game in 1962, but do we really know what happened that day? Let’s breakdown three categories of justifying factors to determine which feat we can consider the greatest of all time.


1. Defenders

Keep in mind that Wilt Chamberlain was 7-1, 275 lbs. The men he went up against that day were Cleveland Butler, a 6-9, 210 lbs. rookie (6th round pick), who did happen to net 33 points and 8 rebounds, and Darrall Imhoff, a 6-10, 220 lbs. center who fouled out in just 20 minutes of action. Of the other six players who laced them up for New York that day, no one stood over 6-6. Thus, Wilt’s main defense that afternoon was a rookie 6th round draft pick, whom he had a 4-inch height advantage over, and a man coordinated enough to last just 20 minutes in the paint.

Kobe Bryant wasn’t exactly defended by All-Defensive teamers on Sunday, drawing match-ups of Jalen Rose, Morris Peterson, Joey Graham, and Eric Williams. Rose, an absolutely putrid defender, was only on the court for 42 minutes because the team is currently showcasing him for trades. Mo Pete has to be at least 3 steps slower than Kobe. Joey Graham had the reputation as a solid defender in college, but he’s more apt to guarding small forwards, not lightning quick 2’s. And finally, the 33 year-old Williams played just 5 minutes of action and certainly didn’t do much to help stop the fire.


2. Eras

On that March day in 1962, the Philadelphia Warriors outscored the New York Knicks 169-147 in regulation. To put things in perspective, the Sonics needed two overtimes (10 extra minutes) on Sunday night to defeat the Suns 152-149. But that’s the thing, those high-scoring contests were a regular occurrence back in the 60s. In fact, the Warriors averaged 134.0 PPG that season, compared to the Phoenix Suns’ league high of 106.3 PPG this year. Think about that—that’s a 27.7 point difference in averages. Doesn’t that say something about the variation in defensive intensity between these two eras? If we want to get mathematical here, 100 points in an era where 134.0 was the league high, is equivalent to a 79-point outing in the modern era. Kobe dropped 81, so can’t we argue that his feat is superior?


3. Position Advantage

It doesn’t take a nuclear physicist to know that it’s much easier to score when you’re 7-1 than if you are 6-6. The majority of Chamberlain’s points came on lay-ups and put-backs (his 25 rebounds probably helped a bit too). Bryant scored 81 points using his quickness and deadly jumper, two methods of scoring that get to be rather exhausting. Posting up a guy on the block takes a lot less effort than it does to blow by defenders and shoot countless jump shots. Plus, Chamberlain got to attempt 32 free throws compared to just 20 for Bryant. You’re telling me it’s not easier to have 12 more attempts from the charity stripe? Thus, I think we can say that Wilt the Stilt definitely had it easier in playing the 5.


Conclusion:

All in all, I think with the height and position advantages, along with the enormous boost in scoring, Chamberlain definitely had in much easier en route to his 100-game performance. In this era, 81 points from a 2-guard is just more impressive than 100-points from a 7-1 center in 1962. Care to argue?

24 Comments:

At 12:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even more impressive, after the game he dropped the pants of seven 16 year old girls...with consent of course.

 
At 1:22 PM, Anonymous Mr. Bean said...

Hey Ant, don't forget, Wilt played 48 minutes. Kobe played 41.

 
At 2:18 PM, Blogger Samone said...

That's really mature, "Anonymous". Anyway, I don't care for Kobe as a person, but dropping 81 points, even if is on the Toronto Raptors, is unbelievable. You gotta give the man props for that.

 
At 2:58 PM, Blogger Ryan Kinkade said...

When I have no respect for someone as a human being, it's hard for me to appreciate anything he does on the court. Yes, 81 points is impressive... if anyone else had done it, I might be excited. I live California and get all the Lakers games locally... a friend called me when Kobe was at 74 and told me he was going for 80 and I should turn it on. I continued reading a communications textbook instead. That sums up how I feel about number 8.

 
At 6:03 PM, Anonymous Wayne said...

I think you are forgetting two things though, Wilt still did score 19pts more than Kobe and there was no 3pt line back then.

Still it's arguable which game is the greatest ever, but I am glad I watched it last night.

 
At 6:33 PM, Blogger Will Shu said...

hey ant
Just to make sure there no problem between us, i really am sorry for my uhh outburst. heh. that was very embrassaing and immature.

When i heard kobe dropped 81, my eyes almost flew out of my head. i really dont like kobe's attitude that much either but he's an awesome player.

 
At 7:03 PM, Blogger mozb said...

The 3-pt line and handchecking rules are what make it inferior in my eyes (along with the obvious difference of 19 points). I think playing center and being fouled as much as Wilt was would be equally tiring compared to what Kobe did. There's also something really impressive about a 7'1" player playing the whole game and not getting exhausted, that has to be taken into consideration.

 
At 7:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the most important thing in determining which game was better was the competition that they faced. Now, obviously, Kobe wasn't exactly taking on the Pistons, but I believe that the people he faced were more physically able to defend him. In this day and age, everybody in the league is athletic and have trained their entire lives and mostly devote (or so we hope and assume) their time to training and getting into the best shape they can. Also, most of these guys are getting paid millions of dollars to be able to compete at the highest level. Back in the 60s, this wasnt exactly the case, so Wilt wasn't exactly playing against the same level of competition that Kobe was. Who's to say that if Shaq had played back then, he couldn't have scored 100 pts (or fouled out the entire team trying to Hack-a-Shaq). I just think that the players that tried to guard Wilt were just physically unable to deal with a man of that stature and talent. An easier way to say this would be that if Kobe played in the 60s, he probably could have had more of these outburts simply because they weren't as athletic as they are now and it would be darn near impossible to stop him. If Wilt, at the time he scored 100, played in the NBA today, I don't believe that he'd be nearly as dominant as back then, even if he was going up against guys like Blount or Olowokandi.

 
At 8:27 PM, Blogger Anthony Peretore said...

I think this feat has created one of the best debates the game has to offer. Great points you guys made...The 48-41 minute comparison, no 3-point line, hand checking, etc. The one I didn't agree with was that Wilt got just as exhausted as Kobe. Chamberlain matched up with just two players that night, Kobe 4. Wilt went up against a rookie who was 4 inches shorter and weighed 50 less lbs. Kobe was running all over the court like a mad-man and was being guarded by much more athletic players. I could go on for hours, but I'll let you guys decide...

Vote now, Kobe or Wilt. Place your vote here or in the poll on the sidebar. Final tallies displayed on Friday.

 
At 9:33 PM, Blogger ET said...

Wilt had an easier time of it scoring. In the 60's, all Wilt really had to do was run in a straight line to and from his basket to the opponent's. This saves a lot of wear and tear to Wilt, and thus he's able to play 48 minutes a night. At the same time, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that when you're right in front of the basket it's easier to drop in shots, especially at 7'1". Kobe, at 6'6", not only often has to take the ball coast to coast (well that's his choice) but also has to drop in jumpers from 10, 20, maybe 30 feet out.

The game of basketball has changed, and it has become a lot more difficult to score in a ballgame. Thus, Kobe Bryant's performance was by far the best offensive outburst in NBA history.

He's still an ass though. 81 points or not.

 
At 11:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

kobe and wilt's performances were two of the greatest ever... but noone has even mentioned jordans 63 against the celtics... thats the greatest performance in the history of the nba without a doubt.. why you ask??

he did it in a PLAYOFF game against the celtics dynasty... kobe did it against the raptors and wilt did it against the knicks' backup center.. they won their games, but jordans performance won a playoff game.. IN BOSTON GARDENS... you have to give a great deal of significance to the context of the game... two meaningless games vs. a playoff game against arguably the best team of the 80s... comon guys agree with me you pricks


BUH

 
At 12:27 AM, Blogger ET said...

Yeah, Jordan and the Bulls also lost the game. So much for great performances.

 
At 12:29 AM, Anonymous L_Euphoria said...

Well, yeah, we should take into account the oppositions that Kobe was up against... By the way... I thought the zone was smaller in Chamberlain's time... and there were no defensive or offensive 3-seconds then...

 
At 7:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nor were there five seconds back to the baskets back in Chamberlain's era.

 
At 10:19 AM, Blogger larry bird said...

I never watched the Wilt game but I'm sure he was getting triple teamed and mugged. Anyway 100 sounds so much better then 81 so I say Wilt's is the greatest performance. I think Kobe may get more than 81 in the future and that will probably top Wilt's performance.

What a surprise that someone mentioned Jordan's 63.

Look out for AI, T-Mac, James etc to go for a huge score in the near future.

 
At 4:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey ET...

who won the nba championship that year... i cant remember

buh

 
At 4:12 PM, Blogger Anthony Peretore said...

100 sounds better so it must be better. Excellent analysis Larry.

 
At 5:31 PM, Anonymous wiZo said...

what sets kobe's performance apart from some others is WHY he got 81. when thompson got 73 and D-Rob got 71, they were clearly going for the scoring title from the very beginning of the game. kobe started the game clearly trying to get his teamates involved. he didnt really start his outburst till they were down by a lot. so what might be even crazier than the 81 total is that he got 55 pts in ONE HALF (also crazy, he got 64 in the last 28 mins of the game).

also have to point out that in Wilt's game, at some point the entire team's goal was to get Wilt 100pts and thus started fouling on purpose to get the ball back and save clock time.

 
At 9:13 PM, Blogger Anthony Peretore said...

wiZo, you're the man, great points. I'm surprised so many of you sided with my opinion. Check out the Triple-threat I put up today and let's try and get some more debates rollin. Peace

 
At 9:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Every rule in the NBA is to promote offense and yet teams still score in the 60's. The league has been watered down since the 88-89 season and the quality fo players is not impressive. How come a 6-9 240 pound center (Ben Wallace) can win defensive player of the year honors 3 of the last 4? Being 7 feet doesn't mean anything unless you can move. There were more great centers in the 60'-70's than any other era. If you don't know Jabbar, Thurmond, Russell, Reed, Unseld, Gilmore, Lanier than why talk about quality of players.

 
At 6:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

After reading so many comparisons between the two games I find it strange that nobody mentioned that Chamberlain's game didn't matter AT ALL. The playoff seedings had already been determined (I just checked -someone can verify this) and it didn't matter for either team whether they won or lost. This alone makes Kobe's performance a far greater one.

 
At 6:46 PM, Blogger Anthony Peretore said...

"Every rule in the NBA is to promote offense and yet teams still score in the 60's. The league has been watered down since the 88-89 season and the quality fo players is not impressive. How come a 6-9 240 pound center (Ben Wallace) can win defensive player of the year honors 3 of the last 4? Being 7 feet doesn't mean anything unless you can move. There were more great centers in the 60'-70's than any other era. If you don't know Jabbar, Thurmond, Russell, Reed, Unseld, Gilmore, Lanier than why talk about quality of players."

Um, every rule is to promote offense, okay agreed, but when the San Francisco Warriors averaged 134.0 PPG in '61-62, doesn't that say something about that era? Did you just ignore that portion of my article? And as for your pretty little list,

Jabbar debuted in '69, Thurmond '63, Reed '64, Unseld '68, Gilmore '71, Lanier '70. Russell was the only one playing in '62. So I'm not sure what your point was. Nice post though, really.

 
At 3:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will never give any props to anyone that takes 46 shots,yes you heard that rite 46 shots,basketball is a team game but kobe don;t know that.Remeber the only way kobe could win anything was because of shaq so don't give me all that title stuff he will never get another without the big man,sorry but wilt is a legend and you should not even talk the other persons name in the same sentence,he should be in jail.

 
At 8:01 PM, Blogger Anthony Peretore said...

First of all dude, ever hear of a period? It's that symbol right next to the comma. It looks just like a dot. But maybe you're right, Kobe don't know this is a team sport, because he put team on his back down 19 and lead them to 19 point win, shoot over 50%, and have one of best games ever in history, what a gunner, what a jerk, put him in jail, cuz he isn't anything without Shaq cuz he is a legend, and doesn't play there no more. Wait, I sound like an absolute MORON, i'll stop now. You're probably the girl that Kobe had sex with, scouring through every NBA message board praising Kobe's performance. Well if it is you, I just have one thing to say. Never tell a big black man who plays a professional sport he can just stick the tip in. It never ends there, never.

 

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