Wednesday, January 25, 2006
I first started following basketball during the era of Michael, Magic, and Larry, arguably three of the top 10 NBA players of all time. Two remarkable games a few days ago reminded me that while these three mega-stars may no longer step onto the hardwood, a new generation of players continues to make history and excitement for fans everywhere.
Last Sunday, with 81 points, Kobe Bryant led the Lakers to a 122-104 victory over Toronto. Eighty-one. That’s the second highest scoring total in NBA history, only behind Wilt’s famous 100 point game. Even Michael’s career high was only (only!) 69. It is so physically and mentally draining carrying such a heavy scoring load, especially when the opposing team is completely geared to stopping you. Despite this, Kobe still shot over 60 percent from the field, making 28 of 46 shots.
And the same night, in a game that was a throwback to the days when defense was light and scoring was high, the Sonics beat the Suns 152-149 in double overtime. (For comparison, the average number of points by other winning teams that night was only 101). Steve Nash, last season’s MVP (and the early front runner for MVP again), scored 28, had 16 assists and 8 rebounds. Ray Allen, despite a slow start, finished furiously, making 8 of 10 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and overtime.
When people say, “Wow, Kobe scored 81?” or “Nash went for 20+ points and 15+ assists… again!” – now you (and I!) can reply, “Yep – just caught it on Google Video.” So come watch the greatest players today play some of the greatest games ever.