L.A. Times: Kobe Bryant could play five more years, 10 more years, 55 more years, and the topic of “81″ would always come up whenever the Toronto Raptors came to town.
Bryant scored 81 points against Toronto in January 2006, making 28 of 46 shots on the way to the second-highest point total in NBA history, trailing only Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point effort in 1962.
It’s impossible to imagine it happening this season with such a deep Lakers team, and Coach Phil Jackson suggested it would be better if “81: The Sequel” never took place, going back to last season’s NBA Finals to prove a point.
“We know that Boston literally said, ‘We’ve got to take Kobe out, we just have to throw our defense at them,’ ” Jackson said. “We have to have more guys fit into our offense if we’re going to be a team that can compete with those clubs.”
Jackson was then asked whether Bryant was happy with his role this season, which has included fewer minutes and lower stats across the board. Jackson began to answer with something akin to “Well, it’s a long season,” before ribbing a reporter for a brief note in a story touching on the fact that Bryant needed 38 points against Toronto to become the youngest player ever to reach 22,000 points.
“That was like a carrot in front of a donkey, whoever did that,” Jackson said with sarcasm. “It was stupid. That could really mess up the game for tonight.”