Basketball is more than scoring, so I hasten to call either of these the greatest, true basketball performances ever, but they’re certainly two of the most impressive outputs, and without question, the two greatest offensive displays of basketball ever. So which is better?
There’s no easy vote, here.
A few things catch my eye.
- 19 more points is a serious number. Advantage Chamberlain
- Kobe shooting 61%, as a guard, including 19 jumpers, is astounding. Wilt was shooting layups the entire game, guarded by 6’6” Center, Dave Budd (27 mins), and 6’11’ Center, Darall Imhoff (20 mins). Serious advantage Kobe.
- Wilt had no chance at shooting a 3-point shot, as they were not in existence, but he probably wouldn’t have taken one anyways. Advantage Kobe.
- Wilt understandably took more free throw attempts, as a big man down-low playing predominantly amongst defenders, but making 88% of them? That might be the most impressive stat in his box score. Chamberlain was a career .511 FT shooter. Advantage Wilt.
- Chamberlain played 6 more minutes, in a game that he admitted got wild at the end. The Knicks also gave up a ton of points that season to every team. Advantage Mamba.
- Wilt, as a center, has the same amount of assists as Kobe the guard, and even though blocks weren’t recorded, I feel safe in assuming Wilt had more than Kobe’s singular rejection. Advantage Wilt.
- 25 rebounds? Despite being the tallest player on the court, and sometimes by a good healthy margin, rebounding takes a toll on the body. Advantage Wilt.
- With natural evolution, both of the game and the human body, scoring today is more challenging, with deeper benches and more young, talented, athletic defenders. Serious advantage, Kobe.
No matter how you vote, what’s important is that Kobe’s given us the chance to compare.
Do you remember the first time you heard someone scored 100 points in a basketball game? I was a kid, and read it in a basketball facts book. I thought it was a joke. I didn’t believe it. When I saw the name “Wilt Chamberlain” next to the record, I knew it was a joke.
The point is, our children, will someday watch the game tape of a “Kobe Bryant” scoring 81 points on their lunar watches or eyeball screens, and be just as amazed. If you tell them you saw it on television, they’ll call you a liar.
For that, we all owe Kobe Bryant a thank you.
Or 81 of them.