NBA / Feb 3, 2009 / 10:57 am

Garden of Dreams

Kobe BryantMr. MVP

As a sports fan, every time you purchase tickets to a game, as opposed to sitting on the couch and tuning in, you hope for the spectacular. You don’t just hope your team wins, but that there’s something memorable that happens. A no-hitter, a hat trick a hail mary.

Last night at the Garden, I got exactly that when Kobe Bryant set the MSG record with 61 points. Breaking Michael Jordan‘s record of 55 (a game Kobe remembers watching) and Bernard King‘s record of 60, Kobe put himself in a new echelon.

Sure you’ve seen the highlights on SportsCenter, and read about it in countless newspapers and blogs, but to be there last night, amongst the 19,763 capacity crowd on 33rd Street & 7th Avenue, you knew what you were in store for.

During the player intros, there were mixed reactions to Kobe, but from the tip you could tell Kobe Bryant was serious, knocking down his first three shots. At that point, I said to the guy next to me, “He could drop 50.”

Every time Kobe went to the line, surprisingly, the crowd (or at least of half it) was chanting MVP. After the game, Mike D’Antoni said, “It was a road game for us tonight.” I’ve been to the Staples Center before, and even before he ever won an MVP award, every time he touches the ball he hears it from the fans.

After five and a half minutes, Kobe had 13 against Q. As I called it, Brand Jordan vs. Heir Jordan. From there, D’Antoni brought in Wilson Chandler (who is now coming off the bench in favor of Al Harrington) and he couldn’t do much better. The highlight was his block to stop Kobe’s 19th and 20th points of the quarter. (After the game, despite torching Chandler, Kobe wouldn’t even give him that. “The block was my mistake,” Kobe said in the post-game press conference. That’s just cold.

After 18 in the first, Kobe checked back in at the seven-minute mark in the second and hits for nine straight. Perhaps I was seeing things, but I’m pretty sure he sold ankle insurance to Chandler before the game.

At this point, the Kobe MVP chants are crazy, and Josh Powell is logging the backup center minutes in Andrew Bynum‘s absence. Whatever happened to Chris Mihm? This guy used to start in this League.

Kobe ends with 34 points in the half using his entire arsenal at his disposal. (Just WATCH.) I’ve never seen a man throw as many fakes as him. It was like rope-a-dope on the parquet. Despite the onslaught, Lakers lead only 65-54 at the half.

In the second half, the Knicks start off on a nice run, cutting the lead to two (67-65) at the 10-minute mark. They’ve now switched Jared Jeffries to Kobe. Scratch 50, he could get 60. Put it this way: If the Knicks were the Raptors, Kobe would have had 82. Kobe ends the third with 46.

In the fourth quarter, Kobe checks back in with seven and a half minutes to play and hits his first attempt. It’s just his night. A minute later, he has 50! If Ruben Patterson was a Kobe stopper, Chandler certainly is not.

For all of you out there that have anointed LeBron this year’s MVP, DO NOT count Kobe out of the race. Without Bynum, there is plenty more to come. Think of this as a press conference on the world’s stage. If the Lakers win the West and Kobe continues to go off, there’s no way he doesn’t repeat.

Kobe exits the game at the 1:48 mark and the Garden gives him a standing O. He has 61. Truly amazing.

“I knew it in the first five minutes,” Phil Jackson said about Kobe’s big night after the game. “He had a determined and somber mood.” Seeing as the Zen Master was also Mike’s coach for his 55 in the Garden, he reminisced. “Michael was coming back after one and a half years off and wasn’t totally himself. He played mostly in the post. I don’t know if he had any threes. Both were remarkable.”

Kobe, after taking close to an hour to finally make his way to the press room, couldn’t have been happier. “It’s a blessing to do what you love and have moments like this,” said Kobe, who averages 30.5 ppg for his career against the Knicks. “You want to play well here.”

What’s the best game by one player you have ever seen?

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  • Mr. TKO

    Kobe Was the Man last night, THis is why I think That Kobe is still the best, He used skills and not strength to score those points and I don’t think Lebron could do some of the things Kobe did last night. They’re both great players though but last night was Kobe’s Night, hopefully he can replicate that success against Lebron and Boston

  • Mr. TKO

    Oh Yea, I was first BItches!!!! Lol
    I never get to say that…

  • Jetpack Jimmy Jaywalker

    That’s great, man, but it DISGUSTS me how the Knicks fan show love to him. No REAL fan would EVEr, EVER, EVER root for an opposing player. The display put on by the Garden crowd last night was disgusting, no other word for it.

  • doc (i like kobe AND bron)

    Kobe the shit I grew up watching him.When I was playing Sonny Hill in 7th and 8th grade Kobe was terrorizing the highschoolers.Aint shit changed except the places he put in work.

  • Mr. TKO

    I don’t know, you can still root for your team but when you witness a great performance, sometimes you have no choice but to acknowledge it. Don’t let your team loyalties blind you to the Truth. It’s just like Me and Lebron, no matter how much I think he gets overhyped, when he puts up a great performance I’m right there clapping just like everybody else.

  • control

    Good job getting a Raptors dis in there…You wash the stink of rat off you from being around all those NY people all night?

    At least the Raps fans hated on their team instead of cheering for the other team and chanting MVP chants for Kobe.

  • Jetpack Jimmy Jaywalker

    You can acknowledge the great performance at another time, later. It’s mind boggling the way the fans reacted. There is no loyalty in the NBA; from the players or the fans. This is the type of thing that turns off casual fans, and is very close to pushing me away. It is inexcusable to root for an opposing player, simply inexcusable. Even MDA said it felt like an away-game. That’s unbelievable.

  • doc (i like kobe AND bron)

    Everybody know Kobe got skills Bron dont have.That dont make the player better.Kobe can spin and fake his way to the rim,Bron can bulldoze his way.Its equally effective.Shaq and Dwight have NO skills that Kobe have.But are just as effective.Bron is a mixture of guard shit thrown in with Dwight and Shaq characteristics.Its a totally different skill set.So for all the people who needed last night to verify Kobe has better skills than Bron(jumper,moves)what the hell was u watching before then.

  • http://www.hotmail.com Mamba

    Awesome article,

    The atmosphere there must have been electric – I’m sure others could probably put it in better perspective where that performance ranks, but it is certainly one of the better that Ive seen since Mike – Id say best performance since Kobe’s own 81 game

  • http://dimemag.com/ Aron Phillips

    @Jetpack Jimmy Jaywalker
    I disagree. A real fan of the game, recognizes greatness when greatness is there. Sure, a diehard Knicks fan wouldn’t actively root for an opposing player from the start of the game, but by the end of it, you had to feel the electricity in the Garden. It’s like watching a movie.

  • the_don_mega

    @doc:

    you right bruh…

  • doug

    I know the haters were on there job last night, everyone forgets about Kobe because he’s been doing so good for so long. This is exactly why I say he’s still leaps and bounds ahead of bron. I watched the whole game and cats on the east go to see first hand what we see all year in L.A. The array of ways Kobe scores, flawless from the free throw line. LeBron has a ways to go. If Kobe aint MJ he’s the closest one.

  • I’m juss sayin

    KOBE DID IT AGAISNT SCRUBS…JORDAN DID IT OUT OF RETIREMENT AGAINST EWING, OAK, JACKSON ETC….A WAY BETTER WAY MORE FOCUSED KNICKS TEAM…LAST NIGHT WAS A REC LEAGUE GAME WITH ONE NBA PLAYER..PEACE

  • doug

    Doc, it’s the fact people(fans)want to crown bron the best player over Kobe and he’s just not. So many of the greats have already spoke on the subject of who the best player including: MJ, Magic,Isaiah Thomas,Larry Bird,Clyde Drexler,Jerry West,Barkley, I mean all these cats have went on record as saying Kobe is the best by a long stretch.Fans are the ones that don’t get it.

  • Drink the Haterade (KB24 Chip 09)

    Perhaps I was seeing things, but I’m pretty sure he sold ankle insurance to Chandler before the game.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  • Chuck Taylor

    At the ACC in Toronto, saw AI and Mike James put 40 on each other. Matador defense anyone?

  • Jetpack Jimmy Jaywalker

    Mr. Aron Phillips:

    Sure, you’ve got to recognize greatness as a fan. But there is a time and play, like, say, the END of the game. NOT WHILE YOUR OWN TEAM IS BUSTING ITS BALLS trying to win this. And it’s especially horrible timing given the Knicks recent surge into playoff contention. It is just classless, and the ‘fans’ should feel ashamed.

  • Lee

    How many buildings does Kobe hold the record in ??

  • http://dimemag.com iannyb

    Go lakers

  • Drink the Haterade (KB24 Chip 09)

    Go Kobe, Go Kobe, Go Kobe…

  • Heckler

    lebron hits broadway on wednesday.
    we’ll see if he has a ‘i can top that approach’

    as a competitor…i think he should.

    why win a meaningless game in a meaningless style?
    Fuck that…LeBron should try to go for 62pts and 1up kobe. it’ll be fun for the league and the 2 players…

    …especially since they know they’ll meet head-up on sunday

  • doug

    It won’t happen, you know how hard Bron would have to work to score 60, he was laboring through his 50 point performance. Bron won’t score 60 points for a couple reasons, his jump shot is too inconsistent and when he goes to the whole and does get fouled he doesn’t make all his free-throws. Please name one night when lebron has been perfect from the line. You’ll be hard pressed, he has too many flaws in his shooting. Like I said bron is surviving off sheer athletecism but when your body starts to slow down as all the greats know, you have to change your game be more of a thinker. MJ & Kobe get that, that’s why they developed post-up game, fade-aways, pull-up jump shots and both were superior free-throw shooters to LeBron. I don’t LeBron has ever shot 80% from the free-throw line yet. This is why Rick Barry was going so hard at LeBron and agian saying what all the greats have said Kobe is head and shoulders above LeBron, Kobe has the athletecism and fundamental aspect of the game down.

  • Yao Fan

    who gives a s**t? big f’in woop he scored 61 on the sad knicks. he has not won crap since Shaq…

  • http://GEE2.com GEE…”him and John Wayne?!”

    You would have to think the Knicks would pull some type of pride out thier collective &%$ and not let LeBron even get another 50.

    I mean I keep saying this but when do you as a player, team or coach get to the point where you are like…

    Ok he (Kobe, T-Mac, LeBron) has 40 points, time to shut him down on everything outside of free-throw attempts. There are little things called ball-denial (which seems to be a lost art), fouls, double teams and triple teams.

    I dont care if another player wins the game on you but when do you get to that point?

    I am sorry, I just ain’t gonna let no one continually humiliate me, set-records on me and whatever.

    Again I know it’s The Garden, which as I said earlier, sucks for the Knicks, cause it so special that your premiere players wanna drop 50 everytime they go there…but that is your house.

    I mean I love records, I do and it’s amazing when they are set. Still I often think about the opposing player or team that the record was set on and wonder “Where’s ya pride pimpin?”

  • Tbest

    He won the western conference. That’s not too bad considering there were 9 50 win teams in the conference.

  • Yao Fan

    too bad they don’t give out an “almost NBA Champions” trophy.

  • doug

    Yao fan, stop hating, he has 3 rings and his career is no where near being finished he will win another one and speaking of winning, since you are a Yao Fan do you think you guys are ever going to win a playoff game, make out of the first round, anything? Put it like this yao fan your the only one who thinks that what Kobe did was no big deal, even Yao’s people like Kobe more than him. Please refer to jersey sales in China and fan support during the Olympic both go to Kobe. Kobe make history, Yao is part of history. Even if Kobe never won another ring, he has 3 already compared to Yao’s….exactly 0 rings. Stop hating, take a nap youngster, you’ve been sniffing too much glue. Appreciate greatness.

  • doug

    You guys need to stop mentioning T-mac’s name in the same sentence Kobe has proven time and time again he’s in a class all to himself, I wouldn’t even mention t-mac in the same breath with Lebron,D-Wade or Carmello.

  • Heckler

    tmac is a hasbeen

    however….i do think it will be tracy mcgrady who will (1 day) break(or tie) michael jordans record of 63pts in a playoff game.

    houston rockets should trade his ass now

  • Heckler

    rockets should trade mcgrady to nj nets. maybe for vince. or…just for shits and giggles….trade mcgrady to nj nets for yi jilian.

    that way…the nets would have vince carter and tracy mcgrady

    and the rockets would have yao ming and yi jilian

  • AY

    I really have a disliking to both kobe and shaq, but you’ve gotta hand it to the guy. This was a game where they’re missing their starting center, you have odom coming off the bench before and now suddenly have to play 35 minutes a game, and almost every other team in the league is smelling blood and wants to put them out. They NEEDED to make a statement, both to the rest of the league and to some extent, the team. So kobe comes out and drops this 61, clearing any doubt that he can turn up the dial whenever necessary and prove to themselves that this is an elite team as long as he’s playing. This is different than someone just “getting hot”, it’s a game he needed to dominate and he just showed up and did it. Only the greats can do something like this, and kobe is definitely one.

  • doug

    heckler, T-Mac aka Benjamin Button we’ll never see 60 points again. He doesn’t have the health with him, when he gets to 20 he’ll start clutching his lower back. T-Mac is done.

  • http://GEE2.com GEE…”him and John Wayne?!”

    A flood is coming.

  • northern lights

    well everyone torches the raps, but I once saw lakers @ raps and witnessed shaq just dominate the paint… the hack-a shaq antics were laughable, and the raps must have used every one of their serviceable bigs under the sun to try and stop him…an assortment of Antonio Davis, Lonny Baxter (who?) Jerome Williams… shit I can’t remember all the names. Anyway Shaq finished with 40+ and the lakers cruised

  • Drink the Haterade (KB24 Chip 09)

    when he gets to 20 he’ll start clutching his lower back. T-Mac is done.

    lmao

  • nola

    uh… i think they’re already playing the game as a hardwood classic right now on nbatv. ahaha

  • doug

    it is a classic already, who does that? How do yet somebody who doesn’t even play for your franchise having the single game scoring record for most points in your building. Bernard King held that record and he was Knick player, Kobe now holds it as a laker player.

  • hahns

    i’m a die hard knicks fan, but love mamba to…i was at the game and on the way up the escalators in the beginning i said to my friend: “i woulndt mind if the knicks lost but kobe dropped 40.” my friend thought it was blasphemy, but i wanted to see something great.

    i think partly bc this knicks team lost its idenity as its on its way to selling its soul for bron….but as my friends were watching the game horrified that mamba was gutting them…i kinda sat back and admired it, and wanted to cheer for him. is that wrong?

  • http://Paytheman Aron Phillips the man

    I sold my tickets to the game.. damn.. Aron Phillips is killing it at dime. how many years till espn grabs him. 1? pay the man

  • Mike C

    Everyone’s saying that he scored 61 because of Knicks’ bad defense, but they actually forced him to take some tough shots. About 10 of the 19 shots he made were bad, low-percentage shots. He would have definitely done the same thing against better squads last night (unless they trapped him everytime with two to three defenders from 25 feet out like the Celtics did in the Finals).

  • recession balla

    …kobe dropped 61 with a dislocated middle finger AND the problem he’s been having with his little finger on his shooting hand for two seasons….

  • Yao Fan

    “3 rings and his career is no where near being finished he will win another one and speaking of winning”

    @ Doug, three rings w/ Shaq and how many without Shaq? did anyone during those three ring years call the Lakers Kobe Bryant’s team? Think not. he was just a sidekick riding on Shaq’s coattail.

    “he will win another one,” wow, im glad you can read the future. I hope you take your house and put it down on the Lakes in vegas.

    I’ve been called a hater. fine. and he is a dandy player. just not as great as some ball-washers make him out to be…

  • doug

    Yao, your an idiot whens the last time you’ve played a full season or not get blocked by a point gaurd, shouldn’t you be practicing. You win a playoff game first than talk to me about Kobe winning “another ring”. Don’t you get it 3 rings to none, 2nd option, 1st option doesn’t matter had 3 rings by the age of 23 or 24. If your biggest knock on Kobe is that he won 3 rings with Shaq and 0 with out, you don’t have much of an argument and by the way Yao in the states we don’t use words like”dandy” you might want to take that out of your vocabulary. Theres a lot of guys from the 50/50 club that would think that was a pick-up line. Stop listening to WHAM, work on your game, grow a heart and keep the ball over your head so guys like Kobe and Nate Robinson aren’t sending your stuff to the third row, DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE WORDS THAT ARE COMING OUT MY MOUTH?

  • Vinny

    yo doug why do u have to be such a dick when u talk to people who dont agree with you?

  • Yao Fan

    its hard to understand the stuff that comes out of your mouth with its full of shit.

    yao ming may not be the GOAT or even the best center in the NBA right now. but at least he has class and has never been caught with some whore in Eagle… then cried fake tears on TV. oh, lets not forget tell the media you want to be traded then change your mind the next week.

  • Yao Fan

    oh yeah, i get the rush hour reference. that shit is retarded and racist. im pretty sure yao ming speaks more english than you do chinese.