It was January 22, 2006. The Los Angeles Lakers were tipping off at home against the Toronto Raptors.
Witnessing Kobe Bryant play live was a pleasure I never experienced. Drawing from the many stories I’ve read throughout the past 24 hours, and knowing the calibre of player he was, those lucky fans who have were witnesses of greatness.
However, this game was a special one. On that night against the Toronto Raptors, Kobe Bryant did the impossible – tallying 81 points in a single game.
In front of nearly 19,000 fans, Kobe went 7-13 from 3-point range, 28-46 from the field, and 18-20 at the line. He played 42 minutes, scoring 55 points in the second half. The 81 points he scored would etch his name in history, recording the second-highest individual point total behind Wilt Chamberlain’s famous 100 in 1962. He averaged more than 35 points per game that season, leading the league in scoring.
The man was a machine.
When asked about the passing of Kobe Bryant yesterday, LA Clippers head coach Doc Rivers told the Los Angeles Times that the late NBA star was “such a great opponent. It’s what you want in sports. He had that DNA that very few athletes can ever have.”
Doc Rivers’ quote highlights the type of competitor Kobe was, and how much he meant to those within the world of basketball. You didn’t need to be a fan of the LA Lakers, or even a fan of him, to recognize the impact he made on the sport.
For Lakers fans, the 20 years he gave them will be cherished forever. For sports fans as a whole, watching him play was an honour.
Rest In Peace, Kobe Bryant – A legend forever.