NBA Players, Coaches Still in Awe of Kobe Bryant’s 81-Point Game 10 Years Later

LOS ANGELES — Every season, one roster is awarded the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Each year there’s an MVP and a scoring champion.

But Kobe Bryant's 81 points on Jan. 22, 2006 vs. the Toronto Raptors—that may never happen again. Ten years later, nobody's come close. In fact, Bryant himself has the next-closest mark: 65 vs. the Portland Trail Blazers in 2007. 

The game’s 10-year anniversary is Friday night, made even more poignant amid Bryant’s farewell tour. But as Bryant and his Laker teammates swallow the reality of their demise—L.A. is 9-35, Bryant's production is hovering at career-low levels—the ego bruises have added up. Humility, of all things, has become one of the team's greatest assets.

Yet for Bryant, the swagger that leads a guy to score 81 points is still alive.

"He walks around like he’ll score 80 on you everyday," Lakers forward Brandon Bass told Bleacher Report. "He walks around like 'I can score 81 now,' you know what I’m saying? He doesn’t have to say it. He gives that off." 

Many involved in today's NBA remember where they were during the performance.  

“I’ll never forget it,” Bass said, the thought drawing a wide smile across his face. “I was with the Hornets, and we had just landed in Sacramento, just got to the hotel. I don’t know if it was Chris Paul who called me, or somebody called me, and said Kobe had like 60 something points. So a couple guys went to Chris Paul’s room to finish watching it. Man, it was crazy. I’ll never forget it.”

Lakers wing Anthony Brown, who now replaces Bryant in L.A.’s starting lineup whenever the 37-year-old’s body won’t let him play, was only 13 years old.

“I was in my house, if I can remember correctly,” he said. &ldquo...

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