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We’ll talk about this later: 17 years since Kobe dropped 81

Your dose of lighthearted takes from this week’s happenings.

Los Angeles Lakers v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Each week, we’ll break down something that happened during the Ohio State game (and occasionally other games and events) that we’ll be talking about for a while—you know, the silly sideline interactions, the awful announcing and the weird storylines that stick with us for years to come. We’ll also compare each of these happenings to memorable moments in pop culture, because who doesn’t love a good Office reference?

For this week’s edition of WTATL, we’re highlighting something we’re actually talking about later because it’s been 16 years to the day since Kobe Bryant dropped 81 points against the Toronto Raptors in just 42 minutes on the court. That anniversary coincides with a much more sobering one when we remember Bryant died three years ago this week.

A day after Ohio State men’s hoops finally broke its dry spell and dropped 93 points on Iowa (and Chris Holtmann was more hyped than we’ve ever seen him), it’s somewhat grounding to remember just what a dominant athlete Bryant was during his time in the NBA. Even the Buckeyes as a team have only broken the 80-point mark nine times this season, and they’re one of the top offenses in the Big Ten.

The Ohio State women’s team, meanwhile, has broken 80 in 16-of-19 games so far this season, with just three individual performances of at least 30 points.

By comparison:

  • Only one other NBA player has ever broken the 80-point mark. Wilt Chamberlain dropped 100 on March 2, 1962 against the Philadelphia Warriors.
  • Currently, just 37 men’s and women’s teams in Division I are averaging more points per game than Kobe did in that historic game. Granted, college games are eight minutes shorter than NBA games.
  • The Division I single-game scoring record is 72 points, scored by Kevin Bradshaw for Alliant International University against Loyola Marymount in 1991.
  • The current NCAA (all division) scoring record came from Grinnell’s Jack Taylor in 2012 when he put up 138 points in Grinnell’s 179-104 victory over Faith Baptist Bible College. Because Grinnell almost exclusively shoots three-pointers while playing at a frenetic pace.

The NBA stat is an impressive one because, even as the game has changed to favor high-scoring players like Steph Curry, those kinds of points just haven’t been seen. Even Curry, the most prolific three-point shooter and offensive power of the modern NBA, has never scored more than 62 points. LeBron’s highest scoring game was 61 points.

As we remember one of the greats this week, here’s the compilation of all his field goals in that historic game.