Originally posted on January 23, 2014.
Welcome to the Lakerholicz.com edition of Throwback Thursdays! Each Thursday, we will recognize a random moment in Laker history. It can be anything like classic game winning shots, interviews, quotes, trash talking, dunks, etc. Some memories will be completely random, while others may be relative to what is happening in the present day.
As we all know, January 22nd marked the 8th anniversary of Kobe Bryant’s legendary 81 point game against the Toronto Raptors. There were many reactions throughout the league at the time so we thought it would be interesting to reflect on some of the immediate reactions (both positive and negative) from legends, coaches, and current players back in 2006. Check out the quotes below!
Pat Riley: “Anybody who’s got the kind of energy to try to hoist up (nearly) 70 shots is going to score a lot of points. It’s remarkable, the execution and the efficiency, but we’ve got a lot of guys in this league, if they took 70 shots, they’d score a lot of points.”
Dwyane Wade: “Everybody was calling. Everybody called every player in the league.”
Larry Bird: “That’s wild. That is really wild. That’s a lot of points, I’M TELLING YOU. There’s no question how good he is, but when you start throwing numbers around like that, it’s unbelievable. It would be hard to believe if you didn’t know it was true.”
Vince Carter: “It is great for the league, for him, just because of the buzz it has created. The only bad thing about it is younger kids, whose minds are easily warped, are going to think, ‘Ohhh! I am going to go out there and do it’ instead of the team concept first. That is what is missing, guys understanding how to play as a team. They want scoring, they want ratings, you are going to get that. You are definitely going to get them now with the amount of 50-60 point games… I just hope kids and young guys understand that yeah, special guys can do that, but…..”
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: “Kobe’s range is unreal, and he does it his way. It was a real treat. His ability to shoot from long range and also attack the hoop, split the defense and get in close for opportunities near the basket is unique. He’s made a niche for himself, and he deserves it.”
Scottie Pippen: “It’s superb, definitely. Something that is new to me, that is shocking. I got the news last night about 3 in the morning and I don’t think I even went back to bed.”
Paul Pierce: “It’s impressive. He’s probably playing the best basketball of anyone in the NBA right now. When you’re taking jump shots, you’re going to get more tired. Wilt got all layups. With the athletes that are in the game today, no, it (100 points) wouldn’t happen. You would have to put more minutes on the clock. Well, maybe Kobe could do it, if he shot every time down the floor.”
Doc Rivers: “What was lost in all of that was that he got it going when they were down by 18 points. The other amazing part was that he didn’t get tired at the end.”
Mark Cuban: “It’s amazing. Beyond amazing. He’s on another level from any other player at this point. It’s like he is toying with teams. If you push up on him, he just takes two steps back and shoots from further out. I hope the NBA adjusts its TV schedule so we all can see him play more. It would be fun to watch and fun to debate how far a one-man show can drag four other players in a team sport.”
Allen Iverson: “It was an amazing night for Kobe. Just unreal. Like watching a video game. He’s the best player in the game.”
Tracy McGrady: “I don’t think I could score that many in a video game.”
George Gervin: “To compare it to anybody would be useless. He set himself apart from everyone else. Everyone looks for another Michael Jordan, and there probably won’t be one. What Kobe did was establish himself as one of the greatest scorers of all time at an early age. He’s a phenom. I’m a believer, man. Now we’ve got to sit back and wait and see if anyone scores 82.”
Jerry West: “You’re sitting and watching, and it’s like a miracle unfolding in front of your eyes and you can’t accept it. Somehow, the brain won’t work. The easiest way to look at it is everybody remembers every 50-point game they ever saw. He had 55 in the second half.”
Shaquille O’Neal refused to comment at the time, but Antoine Walker stated that Shaq told the Heat to get him 50 shots.
As you can see, there were many different reactions to Kobe’s legendary night. What are your thoughts on his 81 point game?
This was an article by Deshaun Sheppard. You can follow him on Twitter here: @WOLF_CHUKI