Before I proceed, it should be pointed out that I believe Kobe Bryant to be one of the best basketball players ever. His record speaks for itself…
- 3rd all time leading scorer in NBA history
- 5 NBA Titles
- 2 time NBA Finals MVP
- 2007-08 NBA MVP
- 18 NBA All Star Games (tied for most all time)
- 12th all time in games played
- Most seasons with 1 franchise (20)
- 15th all time in steals
- 3rd all time in field goal attempts
- 5th all time in free throw attempts
… and they were the stats I had at hand! I will confess to saying Michael Jordan is the greatest player in NBA history but Bryant is certainly in the conversation for one of the greatest of all time.
Having said all of that, the way his final NBA game against the Utah Jazz played out was as farcical as the 2015-16 All Star Game that saw the West score 198 points (!). Many people have differing opinions on the game, but the stats speak for themselves.
- 60 points (T-5th most in a game in his career)
- 22 FG made (the fourth time in his career)
- 50 FG attempts (most ever in his career)
- 21 3PT attempts (most ever in his career), made 6.
To put into perspective, consider the following…
- The 60 points is the most ever by a player aged 37 or older (since 1963-64).
- Only 30 players since 1963-64 have made 22 field goals in a game, the oldest being Alex English at age 35 in 1989.
- No player since 1983-84 has taken 50 field goal attempts, although Wilt Chamberlain did attempt 63 shots in his historic 100 point game in 1962.
- Only J.R. Smith in 2014 with the New York Knicks has attempted more than 21 3 point field goals in a single game (he made 10) and Damon Stoudamire in 2005 with Portland has attempted as many as 21 in a game.
I’ve watched 17 minutes of condensed highlights (thanks to NBA GamePass) and it was nothing more than passing the ball to Bryant and getting out of his way. The biggest thing I was impressed with was that he was able to play 42 minutes at age 37. There were numerous times where a Laker teammate had a relatively open shot, only to pass it up to a closely guarded Bryant. When he went to the basket he was fairly effective, hitting 55.2% of his 2 point field goals. But only 6 of 21 from behind the 3 point line (28.6%) just looks bad. No wonder it took him 50 field goal attempts (and 12 free throw attempts) to get 60 points.
My next opinion probably won’t be very popular, but that’s why this is my blog and my opinions. This game is going to be SOOOOO overrated because it was Bryant’s final game and he ended up scoring 60. You give at least half of the players in the NBA that many shots in a game and they’ll put up at least that many points. Think of the damage Steph Curry or Kevin Durant would do with 50 field goals including 21 3 point attempts and 12 free throws. Based on their season shooting percentages they would end up with 68 and 72 points respectively, so lets calm the farm on how amazing of a game Bryant had simply based on 60 points.
I’ll reiterate that I’m not an anti-Bryant follower of the NBA, he’s mesmerising to watch when he’s in a certain kind of mood. But this was reminiscent of that 100 point game by Wilt Chamberlain where the Knicks did everything they could to carry him to a historic night. And it’s not to say it not a great effort, I think that when the entire team is only looking to give the ball to 1 player… well, you know my thoughts.