When it comes to the greatest scoring performances in NBA history, two names stand head and shoulders above the rest. The first is Wilt Chamberlain, whose 100-point outburst might never be replicated in our lifetime. The second, of course, is Kobe Bryant, whose 81-point explosion against the Raptors will go down as one of the centerpieces of a career decorated by so many legendary moments.
Friday marks the 15th anniversary of Kobe’s 81 points, made all the more bittersweet by the fact that it now comes just a few short days before the one-year anniversary of his tragic death, along with his daughter Gigi and several others, in a helicopter crash near Los Angeles.
To help celebrate the second-greatest individual scoring performance ever, who better to turn to than the man who was on the receiving end of most of those points, Jalen Rose. Thankfully, Rose has developed a healthy perspective on it over the years, saying on several occasions that he’s simply honored to have been a part of history and grateful for the friendship that was eventually forged between the two competitors.
Earlier in the video, Rose describes Kobe’s demeanor on that fateful night, as he’s done many times before, saying that Kobe was a silent assassin and didn’t engage in any trash talking or chest thumping as he went about his business of eviscerating the Raptors defense.
The entire interview is well worth the listen, as Rose talks about his friendship with Kobe over the years, starting with the very first pick-up games they played together after the Lakers first drafted him as a wily teenager and what it was like being young and trying to carve their way amidst the glitz and glamour of the NBA.
Credit to Rose for his ongoing celebration of Kobe’s accomplishment, despite being at his own expense. The way he’s embraced it over the years says a lot about his character and helps neutralize the sting he might normally feel if it were something that still got under his skin. Instead, he gets to partake in the joy of one of the greatest moments of an NBA legend who is gone far too soon.