Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Is 100 Really Safe?

From David more in The Dallas Morning News

Can Kobe score 100?

Bryant not content to be second best, but even he can't fathom matching Wilt

Now that he's flaunted the laws of physics and NBA box scores, it's only natural to wonder if he can do more.
Kobe Bryant isn't constrained by the mundane boundaries of reality and history. He's one of those rare athletes who tempt you to believe the impossible may now be possible.
This is what Bryant has done with his 81-point game. He's forced us to examine the assumption that Wilt Chamberlain's record will never be broken.

The 100 points the Big Dipper scored on March 2, 1962, are the product of a bygone era when Chamberlain was bigger and stronger than anyone he faced and defenses weren't nearly as sophisticated. It's one of those athletic feats, along with Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak in baseball, revered as untouchable. "If one person did it, it's possible that someone else can accomplish the same feat," argued George Gervin, who once scored 63 points in a game and now works in community relations for the San Antonio Spurs. "All the young kids who have people tell them you can't do this, you can't do that, those who hear Wilt's record will never be broken ...
"Kobe has proven things like that can happen."
Maybe it can. But it's not likely.
That's the difference – OK, one of many differences – between a four-time NBA scoring champion and a jaded journalist. Gervin looks at the highest scoring game in nearly 44 years and sees more.
I look at Bryant's brilliant performance and see why Chamberlain's record is safe.
I'm not alone. After the Los Angeles Lakers star autographed copies of the box score for teammates and staff, he was asked about Chamberlain's record.
"That's unthinkable," Bryant said. "It's pretty exhausting to think about."
He wasn't being gracious. Breaking 100 in today's game is unthinkable.
Chamberlain scored 100 points in a season in which the league average was 118.8 points. Only five teams are above 100 in the NBA this season, and the average is 96.7 points.

Even former Lincoln standout Chris Bosh couldn't help Toronto stop Los Angeles' Kobe Bryant on Sunday.
The possibility of Bryant, or any player, scoring more than the league average is absurd.
Another crucial consideration is the number of possessions.
The Lakers average 80.8 shots a game. That's 27 less than teams averaged during the 1961-62 season. It's part of the reason seven of the 10 highest scoring games in league history came between 1960 and '63.
Not everything about this era puts Bryant and others at a disadvantage. The Lakers guard picked up seven additional points behind the 3-point arch that wasn't available when Chamberlain played. Rule changes that prevent defenders from hand-checking an opponent have opened up the game on the perimeter.
Chicago's Michael Jordan never scored more than 69 points in a game. Portland coach Nate McMillan is one who believes Jordan would have scored 100 points under the current rules.
"You better believe it makes a difference," said Gervin, who holds the record for most points in a quarter with 33.

Kobe Bryant hugs coach Phil Jackson as teammates celebrate his 81-point game.
"Back in the day, you could be held. A defender used to be able to put a hand on your side or an arm in your back. I was 185 pounds and had guys at 225 pounds putting their hands on me. It was like trying to move a stump.
"I'm not saying it's easier now, but it's different."
Very different. And that makes for a spirited debate.
The Lakers' Phil Jackson said he's never witnessed anything like what Bryant did to Toronto, which is pretty heady stuff when you consider he coached Jordan. Gervin considers Bryant's 81 as impressive as Chamberlain's 100.
Bryant did shoot better and score a greater percentage of his team's points (66.4 percent to 59.2 percent) than Chamberlain did in his 100-point effort.
"To compare it to anybody would be useless," Gervin said. "He set himself apart from everyone else. Everyone looks for another Michael Jordan, and there probably won't be one.
"What Kobe did was establish himself as one of the greatest scorers of all time at an early age. He's a phenom. I'm a believer, man.
"Now we've got to sit back and wait and see if anyone scores 82."
Notice he said 82.
Not 101.

The top single-game scorers in NBA history:

Wilt's 100
Game: March 2, 1962 vs. NY Knicks
Time played: 48 minutes
FG: 36 of 63
FT: 28 of 32
Rebounds: 25
Assists: 2

Kobe's 81
Game: Jan. 22, 2006 vs. Toronto
Time played: 41:56
FG: 28 of 46 (7-of-13 from 3-point range)
FT: 18 of 20
Rebounds: 6
Assists: 2

Baseball: 56
Since Joe DiMaggio's hitting streak came to an end in 1941, only Pete Rose (44) has come close.
Football: 47
John Unitas' mark of consecutive games with a touchdown pass still stands. Brett Favre hit 36 in 2004.
Hockey: 215
Only Wayne Gretzky has reached 200 points in a season four times in his career.
Basketball: 50.4
Think about averaging that many points per game for an entire season, like Wilt did.
Chuck Carlton

Anecdotes and facts behind other high-scoring games in NBA history.
1 Wilt Chamberlain
100 points, March 2, 1962
Went to a penny arcade before the game and broke records in pinball and air rifle, which he took as an omen. Hitched a ride to New York after the game with several of the Knicks players he set the record against.
T-4 David Thompson
73 points, April 9, 1978
Big game came on the final day of the regular season to ease past George Gervin for the scoring title. Gervin scored 63 points later that evening to take the title back.
T-8 David Robinson
71 points, April 24, 1994
Big game came on final day of the regular season to beat Shaquille O'Neal for the scoring title.
11 Michael Jordan
69 points, March 28, 1990
Highest scoring game came against Cleveland when Cavaliers coach Lenny Wilkens refused to double-team him.
T-25 Joe Fulks
63 points, Feb. 10, 1949
Highest scoring game before the introduction of the shot-clock. Fulks was 27-of-56 from the field and 9-of-14 from the free throw line.

David Moore

Amazing scoring milestones from the four major pro sports:
MLB: Fifteen players have hit four homers in a game, a barrier that stands like the speed of light.
NFL: Three players have scored six TDs in a game, including a memorable day by Chicago's Gale Sayers in 1965.
NHL: Toronto's Darryl Sittler recorded 10 points (6 goals, 4 assists) vs. Boston in 1976. Not even Gretzky matched it.
NBA: Wilt Chamberlain's record night in Hershey, Pa., still stands as a massive round number.
Chuck Carlton

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