Returning to the Scene of the Crime With Kobe Bryant

Returning to the Scene of the Crime With Kobe Bryant

Toronto hosts the legend's final All-Star Game, but was victim of his 81-point game 10 years ago.

Published February 11, 2016

January 22, 2016, marked the 10th anniversary of Kobe Bryant's 81-point game against the Toronto Raptors.

Regardless of the fact that the mind-numbing feat occurred at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, any time the Black Mamba and Toronto are mentioned in the same breath, that video-game-like fireworks display will come to mind.

And despite fans traveling to Toronto from far and near to witness Bryant's final All-Star Game on Sunday night, there are local fans from the T-dot who will never forget the future Hall of Famer making a crime scene out of their beloved Raptors back in 2006.

So, before Kobe soaks up all the adulation from his fellow All-Star peers and NBA fans alike, Sunday night, in his 18th and final All-Star Game, took liberty to look back at his super-human scoring feat just over a decade ago. After all, it's part of the five-time NBA champion's legacy.

To set the crime scene up, 2005-06 marked the then-27-year-old Bryant's 10th NBA season, one in which he literally had to carry the Los Angeles Lakers just to keep the franchise in contention in the tough Western Conference.

Entering the infamous home game against the Raptors on January 22, 2006, the Lakers were 21-19 through 40 games, coming off back-to-back road losses, which had Bryant dropping 51 points and 37 points, respectively, in defeat.

That set the stage for Bryant to help lead the Lakers to a sorely-needed win at home... and boy, did he deliver.

Despite scoring 26 points in the first two quarters, the Lakers trailed by 14 points entering halftime.

But what happened over the final two quarters still stands as some of the most staggering numbers hoop fans will ever see on a box score.

That's because the Black Mamba lit the Raptors up for 27 points in the third quarter and 28 more in the fourth, willing the Lakers to victory.

His final stats? An absolutely ridiculous 81 points on 28-of-46 shooting from the field, including seven three-pointers, and an 18-of-20 clip from the charity stripe in 42 minutes. He also managed to grab six rebounds, dish two assists, record three steals and even one blocked shot. Good lord. 

After turning in the second-highest single-game scoring output — only trailing Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game — Bryant was in awe of himself.

"Not even in my dreams," Bryant told ESPN at the time. "That was something that just happened. It's tough to explain. It's just one of those things.

He added: "It's about the 'W.' That's why I turned it on. It turned into something special. To sit here and say I grasp what happened, that would be lying."

And the unlucky player guarding him for much of the game in Jalen Rose?

"Kobe never bumped his chest. He never pointed in the crowd. He never trash-talked," Rose told the Los Angeles Times just last month, remembering being on the receiving end of being dumped on. "If Kobe had behaved like that, he wouldn't have got to 51, let alone 81, because we would have wanted to physically harm him on the court."

Just past the 10-year mark and still unreal. Kobe wound up capturing the scoring title that year with a career-high 35.4 points per game.

Despite Toronto being known Sunday night as the location for Kobe's final All-Star Game, it will always be remembered as the host of the team that had the Black Mamba spewing his venom out like never before.

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(Photo: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Written by Mark Lelinwalla


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