81 Remembered: Kobe, Phil Jackson and More Reflect on Bryant’s Brilliant Scoring Showcase 10 Years Later

It seems like yesterday that Kobe Bryant served the Toronto Raptors with 81 points, becoming second to Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 point single game NBA record. Nonetheless, it’s 10 years later and we’re all gearing up to see the Black Mamba’s last NBA All Star Game, which happens to be in Toronto. Seemingly a perfect farewell story, Kobe Bryant has been named a Western Conference starter and was the leading vote receiver via fan voting. As many celebrate and remember Bryant’s huge scoring accomplishment, which ultimately sums up a highly decorated career of Championships, Finals MVPS, All Star appearances, Gold Medals and much more, you can only imagine the thoughts that went through many minds who were in attendance that night. From Bryant himself to other figures such as Lakers’ GM Mitch Kupchak, Phil Jackson (who coached the Lakers during that time), teammate and many others, check out some of their thoughts and reactions during Kobe’s historic moment below and view more here.

Kobe Bryant: I didn’t really pay attention to anything that was said. I was just in my own head and in my own zone. I wasn’t high-fiving anybody. I wasn’t talking to anybody. I just felt like I was in a different dimension. Nothing else mattered. Everything was irrelevant. I really wasn’t thinking about the scoring. I was trying to get us back in the game. We were down by 18 points in the third quarter. I remember at the end of the third quarter I had a steal and I had to hustle to keep the ball in bounds, and then I had a dunk and I said, "We’re in this game and we’re going to win this game." That was the real turning point. Those are the plays that really change momentum — hustle plays. That’s when I knew we’re going to win this damn game.
Mitch Kupchak: Kobe was more than willing to have Phil back on board, and he worked incredibly hard preparing for that season. We had traded Shaquille the previous year, and Kobe had a chance to spread his wings and really just find out in his mind, and our minds, too, where historically he was going to end up. He could have been happy averaging 22 points per game, but this was an opportunity for him to blossom. He wanted to show the world how great he was.
Phil Jackson: I know people in [Los Angeles], particularly, like to see Kobe have a game like that; we all do. Kobe could have attacked if it was a game that was meaningful, flawless and had some competitive zest to it, but that 30-plus [lead] at that time, it wasn’t meaningful.

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