Today marks 10 years since Kobe Bryant scored 81 points during an epic performance against the Raptors. To commemorate the occasion, Kobe—and about 50 other people (no, really, about 50 other people)—took part in an excellent ESPN.com oral history of the game, compiled by reporter Arash Markazi. It provides a great inside look at how Kobe was able to score 81 points in a single game, featuring info on everything from Kobe’s grueling training sessions that season to the amazing 81-point game itself.
You really need to check out the entire oral history to understand how 81 points happened. But one thing that struck us as we read through it is that, believe it or not, Kobe actually thinks he should have had more than 81 points. On more than one occasion in the oral history, he talks about how he spent about half of the second quarter of that game against Toronto on the bench (he played 42 of 48 minutes), and he also remembers missing two free throws during the game (isn’t that just like Kobe?). With that in mind, Kobe actually thinks he could have, er, should have scored at least 90 points during the game and also thinks he could have scored 100 if he had capitalized on some “easy opportunities.”
“I should have had 90 points or more,” he says in the oral history. “I missed two free throws after making 62 straight. I had some open looks. I had some really open looks that I missed. I could have had more. There’s a lot of easy opportunities I missed. I think 100 is possible. I absolutely do. If I hadn’t sat out those six minutes in the first half, maybe I would have had it.”
Elsewhere in the oral history, Kobe also admits that his wife Vanessa basically forced him to keep the uniform he wore during his 81-point game. He was all ready to send it to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, but she wouldn’t let him do it.
“The Hall of Fame requested my uniform and shoes, and I was going to send it to them because I said, ‘This is pretty cool that a player who is still playing has stuff in the Hall of Fame,’” he remembers. “But my wife was like: ’No, listen, we’re keeping the uniform. You can send the shoes if you really want, but the uniform is not going anywhere.’ So the uniform is framed and up in the gym in our house.”
There are plenty of other gems in the oral history, which again, you can find here. Happy 81-Point Day, Kobe.
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