Kobe Pours in 81 Points

Updated: February 21, 2007, 11:40 AM ET
By Kris Schwartz | Special to ESPN.com

Signature Game

January 22, 2006 - 81 points??? "I've seen some remarkable games," said Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who coached Michael Jordan with the Bulls, "but I've never seen anything like that before."

Jackson was discussing Kobe Bryant, who had torched Toronto for 81, second best in NBA history only to Wilt Chamberlain's 100 in 1962. Trailing the Raptors by 18 in the third quarter, Bryant took over the game, scoring 55 points in the second half (27 in the third period and 28 in the fourth) to lead Los Angeles to a 122-104 win.

"I was locked in, determined, tuned in to what was going on out there," said the 27-year-old guard. "I wanted to keep riding the wave."

A month earlier, Bryant had scored 62 points -- in three quarters. Tonight in the Staples Center, he easily surpassed his previous high, making 28-of-46 shots, including 7-of-13 three-point attempts. He also had six rebounds and two assists.

But not everything went perfectly in his 42 minutes. While Bryant made 18-of-20 foul shots, his team-record for consecutive free throws ended at 62. But the big question posed after the game about the No. 62 was whether Bryant could top a record set in that year. "I don't think anyone, in this era, could imagine that," said Jackson. "Then again, I couldn't have imagined 81 either."

Odds 'n' Ends

  • Kobe's father Joe was a star at LaSalle before averaging 8.7 points and 4.0 rebounds in eight seasons in the NBA (four with Philadelphia, three with San Diego and one with Houston).

  • With Joe switching from one Italian team to another -- playing for the highest bidder -- the family moved from town to town.

  • As a child in Italy, Bryant would jump out of the second floor window into the grass below.

  • He challenged some of his father's teammates to games in basketball.

  • When Bryant was a youngster, his parents clothed him warmly in a Lakers jacket.

  • Bryant was devastated in November 1991 when Magic Johnson announced that he was HIV positive. The 13-year-old Bryant cried and felt sick for a week, sometimes not eating meals. He took the initiative to find out what HIV was, reading up on the subject.

  • Kobe's parents screened movies before their three children could watch them. He never got to see The Godfather until after he entered the NBA. After viewing it he said it became his favorite movie: "It reminds me of my family because of the way they all pulled for each other no matter what."

  • Against Dallas on Jan. 28, 1997, Bryant became the youngest player -- at 18 years, five months and five days -- to start an NBA game.

  • Eleven days later in his rookie season, Bryant won the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest.

  • Bryant made the All-Rookie second team. On the first team were Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Allen Iverson, Stephon Marbury, Marcus Camby and Antonie Walker.

  • In December 1999, Bryant -- at 21 -- bought a 50 percent interest in the Italian-based Olimpia Milano basketball team. Joe was named executive VP. But within a year, citing differences with the other owner, Kobe divested his share of the team.

  • In 2000, Bryant was named to the first-team All-Defensive team. At 21, he was the youngest player in NBA history to earn that honor.

  • Bryant produced an R&B album called "Visions" in August 2000.

  • On Feb. 12, 2002, he reached his high in assists, with 15 against Washington.

  • On March 1, 2002, Bryant took a swing at Indiana's Reggie Miller as the game ended and they wrestled over to the scorer's table. Both players were suspended for two games.

  • Bryant led the NBA in 2002 by attempting 24.1 field goals a game, .5 more than Iverson, the runner-up.

  • With the Lakers trailing the San Antonio Spurs 84-79 in Game 4 of the 2002 Western Conference semifinals, Bryant nailed two three-pointers and scored on a putback with five seconds left to give LA an 87-85 victory.

  • Bryant set NBA records of 12 three-point baskets and nine straight three-pointers in the Lakers' 119-98 win over Seattle on Jan. 7, 2003. He had not made more than five three-pointers in a game previously.

  • On Jan. 19, 2003, Bryant's wife Vanessa gave birth to the couple's first child, Natalia Diamante. A second daughter, Gianna Maria-Onore, was born in the morning of May 1, 2006, 10 hours after Bryant hit a jumper at the overtime buzzer to beat the Suns in a playoff game.

  • In 2003, Bryant became only the second player to score at least 35 points in 13 straight games. Wilt Chamberlain did it three times, with streaks of 33, 23 and 20.

  • During the last nine games of Bryant's run, he scored at least 40 points, tying Michael Jordan for the fourth-best streak. Chamberlain had streaks of 14 games (twice) and 10 games of scoring at least 40 points.

  • On Dec. 20, 2005, Bryant scored 62 points -- in only three quarters. He shot 18-of-31 from the field, including 4-of-10 from three-point range, and made 22-of-25 foul shots in the Lakers' 112-90 victory over Dallas. He outscored the Mavericks 62-61 through three periods.

  • In nine All-Star Games, Bryant has averaged 20 points, 5.2 assists and 5 rebounds. He's been voted the contest's MVP twice (2002 and 2007).

  • Bryant regained the No. 1 spot on the list of best-selling NBA jerseys in January 2007. Bryant, who switched to No. 24 for the 2006-07 season after wearing No. 8 for his first 10 NBA seasons, had the most popular jersey in 2002-03, but his jersey sales dropped after he was arrested on sexual assault charges in Colorado.

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