The year is 2005. Mariah Carey, Gwen Stefani, 50 Cent, Green Day, Kanye West, and Kelly Clarkson have all the hits and in the National Basketball Association we saw the rise of the 2003 NBA Draft Class that featured LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh.
Dwyane Wade lead the Miami Heat to their first NBA championship over the Dallas Mavericks while LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers finished two games worse than Wade’s Heat. Carmelo Anthony was able to land the Nuggets in the playoffs, while Bosh was putting up great numbers in Toronto on a bad team.
While we saw a young star in Dwyane Wade averaged 34.7 points in the Finals, the 2005-2006 NBA regular season was dominated by players who are now ‘old guys’ if you will. Steve Nash was the MVP, Kobe Bryant was the scoring champion, and Elton Brand was a MVP candidate.
Let’s talk about that Kobe guy, though.
Kobe Bean Bryant has one game left in his NBA career which will happen tonight on national television versus the Utah Jazz on national TV. While Bryant and the Lakers are a lottery team now instead of title contenders, it might be better for Bryant to go out without the pressure of having to win. It makes it easier to reflect on his career as well.
Bryant appeared in 80 games during the 2005-2006 NBA season, averaging a career-high 35.4 points per game on 45% shooting from the field. Those 35.4 points per game give Bryant the 8th best scoring season in NBA history. Only Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan, and Ricky Berry have had a higher scoring season in terms of points per game.
It only makes sense that this is the year Bryant dropped his career high of 81 points on January 22nd, 2006 versus the Toronto Raptors. This is the second-highest scoring game in NBA history by a single player.
If we go back to December 20th, 2005 of that season, we will find a 62-point game from Bryant against the Dallas Mavericks. The thing about this game is Bryant didn’t play the 4th quarter, and he outscored the Mavericks by himself 62-61 after three quarters. The Lakers lead the game 95-61 after the 3rd.
The then 27-year-old Bryant only scored under 20 points three times that season while he scored 50+ points six different times. He had 29 30-point games and 21 40-point games to help him average that epic total of 35.4 points.
As it is very well known Bryant didn’t win MVP that year largely in-part due to the fact that the Lakers were still trying to move on from Shaquille O’Neal and Bryant wasn’t ready yet to lead the Lakers to a deep playoff run and be successful.
Steve Nash won the MVP that year while LeBron James and Dirk Nowitzki finished with more votes. After Bryant, the rest of the NBA MVP voting that year went Chauncey Billups, Dwyane Wade, Elton Brand, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Allen Iverson, and Shawn Marion.
That season was the first scoring title that Bryant won in his career. He then won it again in 2006-2007 after averaging 31.5 points per game.
Maybe Bryant will give us 143 points to reach 34,000 career points in his final game. A 100-point game seems like the only thing Kobe has never gave to us.
Or, he can dunk on someone again. Either way, thank you for everything over the years, Kobe.
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