Kobe Bryant and 5 Stars Who Could Match Wilt Chamberlain's 100
Picture courtesy USA Today
In all of sports, there's probably one single-game record that stands out above all others. Today commemorates the 50th anniversary of that event. The distinction goes to Wilt Chamberlain and his 100-point game.
There might be other overall records with equal distinction, like Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak. There are equally unbreakable career records such as Nolan Ryan's strikeout total or Jerry Rice's receiving marks.
But for a single game, there is no achievement which stands close in impressiveness or folklore. Ask most casual basketball fans what the single-game record for scoring is and they'll tell you that it was Wilt's 100-point game.
Adrian Peterson's 296-yard rushing game, Kerry Wood's 20-strikeout game, and Joe Malone's seven-goal game are all very impressive, but do the casual fans know who did it? Do they know what it means?
It probably helps that the record is a nice, round, 100. It also helps that it's so big that it's preposterous. It's beyond a video game record—it's a monumental achievement.
Are there any players who could score 100 today? Probably not. There are only two active players who have even topped 60 points: Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady.
Only three players, Bryant, David Robinson and Chamberlain have ever even broken 70.
But what if there were a magical night where a player could step up and everything fell into place, all the shots were falling and, for whatever reason, the player kept getting fed the ball. Who are the players that have even a smidgen of hope of doing it?
Here are the five players with the best chance of doing it, albeit it a small one.
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Here are a few players that aren't on the list. I'm using these players partially to illustrate some of the thinking that went into this list. Essentially there are two "types" of scorers who I dismissed.
Dwight Howard's career high is 45 points. He's a very good scoring center, but he's not dominant offensively in the sense of the truly great big men like Shaquille O'Neal or Wilt Chamberlain have been in the past.
That, plus his limited free-throw effectiveness, means he'll likely never break 60 points, much less 100. The same goes for Blake Griffin and any other bigs who can't hit a high percentage from the stripe.
Derrick Rose's career high is 42 points and he's just 23 years old. I can see him putting together some 50-point games, but not any higher than that.
There are two reasons for that. First, he wouldn't want to. He takes pride in the fact he's a point guard. Contrary to popular belief, he'd rather be a distributor than a scorer.
Second, his body just could not endure that many attempts. Chamberlain took 63 attempts. Rose's body just could not endure that. He's too small.
You can say the same for Dwyane Wade, Monta Ellis, Brandon Jennings or Russell Westbrook. They can all score and get to the rim, but they simply aren't physically equipped to hold up to that kind of beating.
In other words, you need to be big enough to take a lot of shots, and you need to be able to make the shots from the stripe when you get clobbered, which you will be if you're chasing 100.
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Dirk Nowitzki's jump shot is about the most perfect thing you will see on a basketball court. Virtually everything he does with his body is designed to make him impossible to guard. He's also developed an arsenal around that jump shot that is diverse and deadly. He can destroy you virtually anywhere on the court.
From the charity stripe, he's a career .876 shooter. That's certainly indicative of a player who can take advantage of a lot of trips to the line.
His career-high is just 53 points, but he's capable of doing more.
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Anthony has two games where he hit 50 points. In both of those games, he shot over 60 percent from the field. When he is on, Anthony is capable of scoring virtually at will. He can score in so may ways and has such a broad skill set that if he were to have a magical night, who knows what could happen?
Because he can beat you in a variety of ways, the more he scores, the more he can score. You cheat one way, and he will beat you another way. His versatility gives him a spot on this list.
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Kevin Durant's career-best point total is 51. That, for now, is his only 50-point game.
I consider Durant to be the closest thing the NBA has to a poem. He's not just poetry in motion—he's an actual poem. There is such rhythm, fluidity and grace to his offense you have to diverge from basketball terminology to describe his game.
Remember, he is just 23 years old. He has room to get even better, and has a work ethic that will help him reach his full potential. I believe that Durant will actually score 70 points at some point in his career.
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Since Kobe Bryant scored 81 points once, it's hard to not put him on the list. He has the three highest-scoring games of any active player.
There are 23 active players who have combined for 61 50-point games. Kobe has 24 of them.
The Black Mamba can score from anywhere on the court and in virtually every way there is to score.
He hasn't broken 50 since Feb 2, 2009, though. He's still playing great, but he's not longer the same player he was at 27. If this were written five years ago, he would easily be on top of this list.
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I get that Kobe Bryant had an 81-point game in 2006, but right now, I have to put LeBron James in the top spot of this list.
I'll probably catch some heat for this, but his scoring ability is such that he can dominate any game he decides to dominate. Of course this all depends on him deciding to.
His game is not as complete as some of the other guys on this list, but his body is equipped to endure a 100-point game. His efficiency is good enough that he would be able to do it with the fewest attempts. He gets to the line often enough to score in bunches at the charity stripe.
LeBron may not ever accomplish this feat, but he has the best chance of any player currently in the league.