Kobe Bryant spent much of his 1,346-game NBA career locked into what athletes call “the zone.” Never was that more true than on Jan. 22, 2006, when the Los Angeles Lakers legend scored 81 points in one game against the Toronto Raptors.
Thanks to YouTube, we can all relive that incredible performance today, when Bryant fans need a few minutes of good memories.
Due to the magic of editing, one only needs three minutes to cover those 48 minutes of brilliance, which resulted in the second-highest point total ever scored by an individual in a National Basketball Association game. Buckets-wise, Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point performance way back on March 2, 1962 is the only solo effort better than Bryant’s night 44 years later.
Watch Kobe score every single one of those incredible 81 points via the video above. The Lakers would go on to defeat the Raptors 122-104.
Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among nine people killed Sunday in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif. Kobe was 41. Gianna, who was called Gigi, was 13.
Kobe and his daughter were on their way to a basketball practice for Gianna at Bryant’s Mamba Academy in nearby Thousand Oaks.
According to the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, a Sikorsky S-76 helicopter with five people on board crashed in the foggy hills west of the San Fernando Valley and burst into flames about 10 a.m. PT. The fire was contained to the Calabasas crash site, which was not near any homes or major roadways, officials said.
The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board have launched an investigation into the cause of the crash.
Bryant was known for using helicopters to travel throughout Los Angeles during his 20-year career with the Lakers, during which he won five NBA championships. Drafted out of high school by the Lakers in 1996, Bryant embarked on a career that saw him become an 18-time All-Star, the 2007-08 league MVP, and score 33,643 points.
His death comes less than 24 hours after fellow NBA star and Lakers forward LeBron James passed Bryant for third on the all-time NBA scorers list. James wore custom shoes with Bryant’s jersey numbers, 8 and 24, during Saturday’s game to honor him.
Both of Bryant’s jersey numbers were retired by the Lakers in 2017, two months before he won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short alongside famed Disney animator Glen Keane. The short, titled “Dear Basketball,” depicted moments from Bryant’s childhood and career as he narrated his Players Tribune column announcing his retirement from basketball in 2016.