Where Were You When... Kobe Scored 81 Points?

Today marks the 15th anniversary of Kobe Bryant's 81 point game versus the Toronto Raptors. 

Do you remember where you watched the game? I certainly do. I was in my 2nd year at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, enrolled in the Sport Management program. I was living off-campus and although I didn't technically live at 1B Galbraith St., I spent so much time hanging out with my friends that my mail might as well have been sent there. I often wound up there after class on a Friday and wouldn't get home until Monday morning, just in time to hustle to the bus and head back to school for morning class.

One of my good buddy's, AA, was (and still is) the most hardcore Kobe fan I know and there was a ton of trash talk going back and forth during the week leading up to the Raptors/Lakers game. Obviously he got the last laugh (to this day, we still chat, and typically the conversation revolves around his reverence for Kobe).  

On this particular Sunday, I started out watching the game like many other Raptors fans - excited for my team to be playing against the Lakers and Kobe, who had been tearing up the league that year, ultimately finishing with a league-leading scoring average of 35.4 ppg (good for 9th best scoring season in NBA history). 

Now, on a regular night at 1B Galbraith, there were easily 8-12 people in and around the house, coming and going. However, I happened to be the only person actually watching the game from the start - none of the actual residents were into sports as much as I was, and like I said, I pretty much lived there. Watching the game by myself was what I was expecting. I vividly remember going upstairs at halftime and letting everyone in attendance know that the Raps were up 14 points, but that Kobe was "having a game" - he had 26 points at half and had already strung together some ridiculous scoring games (he ended December and started January with five straight 40+ point games and had just scored 51 points versus Sacramento three days prior). I knew that something special might be happening. Then the 3rd quarter started. Kobe was like a house on fire. 

During the first commercial break, I sprinted back up the stairs to double down on my "Kobe is having a game" statement. I was able to sell two buddies to come down and watch what was happening. By the time the 3rd quarter ended, the whole house was surrounding the TV and my friends were actively cheering for Kobe to keep scoring. As a Raptors fan, I realized that we were going to lose the game as soon as Kobe slammed a breakaway dunk to take the lead 87-85 with 1:11 to go in the 3rd quarter. The Raptors were never going to come back from that. And so I immediately switched allegiances too. Even I was hoping for Kobe to keep scoring. And did he ever. Eighty. One. Points. It was the most amazing basketball performance I had ever seen. I watched all 48 minutes of that game in awe of a truly exceptional performance, by one of the greatest players to ever play the sport. What a game. What a player.

Sportsnet, in Canada, will be airing the historic game tomorrow at 5:30 PM EST. I will be looking forward to re-watching this classic NBA performance while reminiscing about my days at school, living off KD, crushing poppers, drinking bottom of the keg beer for cheap and generally having the best time of my life. Thank you Kobe Bean Bryant. 

Photo Credit: PI/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire