For a few minutes, let's flash back to the 2002-2003 NBA season. The Lakers were attempting to win four straight titles, LeBron James wouldn't be in the league for another season, Yao Ming was a rookie and Tim Duncan was on his way to winning back-to-back MVP awards.
Now, narrow your focus a little more to February of the 2002-2003 season. Something extraordinary was taking place in Los Angeles, during a nine-game stretch in February of 2003. Kobe Bryant had a nine-game streak of 40-point basketball games.
Kobe was not the first to accomplish this jaw-dropping feat. Wilt Chamberlain did it three times in his career. In the 1961-62 season, Chamberlain had two separate streaks of 14 games of at least 40 points and during the '62-'63 season, Chamberlain had a streak of 10 straight. Michael Jordan had nine straight games of at least 40 points, during the '86-'87 season. Listed below, are the nine games from Bryant's 40-point streak in 2003.
2/6/03 versus New York Knicks: 46 Points (Lakers Win)
2/11/03 versus Denver Nuggets: 42 points (Lakers Win)
2/12/03 versus Denver Nuggets: 51 points (Lakers Win)
2/14/03 versus San Antonio Spurs: 44 points (Lakers Lose)
2/16/03 versus New York Knicks: 40 points (Lakers Lose)
2/18/03 versus Houston Rockets: 52 points (Lakers Win)
2/19/03 versus Utah Jazz: 40 Points (Lakers Win)
2/21/03 versus Portland Trail Blazers: 40 Points (Lakers Win)
2/23/03 versus Seattle Supersonics: 41 points (Lakers Win)
A player has to truly be in a zone to put up these kinds of numbers for nine straight games. Also, Bryant didn't do this in 2005 or 2006 when he was playing with guys named Kwame Brown and Smush Parker. This took place in 2003, when the Lakers were the defending NBA champions and Kobe had to share the rock with another superstar in Shaq (Shaq played in six of the nine games).
The Lakers got off to a terrible start that season. After a Christmas Day loss to the Sacramento Kings, the Lakers had a record of 11-19. Before the nine-game streak started, the Lakers had a 23-23 record. The Lakers went 7-2 during the nine-game streak, giving some much needed elbow room in the standings.
This 7-2 stretch jump-started the Lakers, as they finished with 50 wins. So, Bryant was not only doing this on a championship-caliber team, but he played his best when the Lakers really needed it.
With his five championships, Finals MVP trophies, scoring titles and an 81-point game under his belt, it is easy to forget about that nine-game stretch in February of 2003. But make no mistake, it is just as impressive as any of Bryant's other individual achievements.
If fans are expecting this to happen again anytime soon, don't count on it. When something has been done by guys with the names Jordan, Chamberlain and Bryant on their jerseys, it is safe to say it is fairly rare.