A trip down the memory lane to February 15 years ago, when Kobe Bryant was on a rampage vs the entire league. 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.
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.
The first victim of Kobe Bryant's 46 point performance were the New York Knicks while the Lakers won that game by five points. Bryant then led Los Angeles into Denver, where his hot hand nearly burned all the snow off the Rocky Mountains. The Nuggets were blown out by 28 in the first meeting while Kobe casually posted 42 points. Then, on the second night of a back-to-back, the Mamba netted 51 in just 31 minutes by building a house on the free-throw line and not leaving until he went there 20 times — he hit 18.
San Antonio and the Knicks brought the Lakers back down to Earth by handing them consecutive losses, but Bryant’s descent was slower than his team’s, and Kobe registered 42 and 40 on those nights.
A double-overtime game against the Houston Rockets kicked off a six-game winning streak Kobe poured in 52 points in 54 minutes vs Rockets.
As the days wore on, Bryant wore out, and his (second) 40-piece against Utah was his last scintillating performance. 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.
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 rest of the year paled in comparison to that torrid stretch, but that was Bryant’s climax. Individually, the subsequent seasons were the best of his career, and it was indisputable that Bryant was the closest we had seen to Michael Jordan.