It was 10 years ago this week that Kobe Bryant did something only one man had done: score 50 or more points in four consecutive games. For a stretch starting on a day New York City caught 5.5 inches of snow, the Black Mamba was on fire.
Amid the lone MVP season of his illustrious career, the soon-to-be Hall of Famer gunned his way into the record books. Only Wilt Chamberlain has posted as many points in at least four consecutive games. Chamberlain’s also known as the only person to score more points than Bryant in a single game.
The Lakers won all four games highlighted in the Black Mamba’s mind-boggling March stretch. Over his entire historic streak, Kobe shot 54 percent.
A decade later, we revisit the week Bryant mowed down everything in his path.
March 16, 2007 - Lakers 116, Trail Blazers 111 (OT)
Kobe’s stat line: 65 points (23-of-39 shooting, 8-of-12 on threes), seven rebounds, three assists, three steals
The story: The Lakers had lost seven games in a row when Kobe finally gave in. It was the longest losing streak of Phil Jackson’s tenure as Lakers’ head coach. Kobe was going to gun his team to a victory, no matter what. Bryant scored 24 points in the fourth quarter and threw in nine more in overtime to lead Los Angeles to a 116-111 victory over Portland.
Even after scoring 65, Bryant had other things on his mind.
"My daughter is outside waiting for me, and I'm sure she doesn't give a damn about what just happened. She just wants to watch Care Bears," Bryant said, according to The Associated Press. "I'm just happy we won. We needed to get this one. We just had to win this game and get back on track, just for a morale standpoint. We're at a point now where everybody's a little beat up."
March 18, 2007 - Lakers 109, Timberwolves 102
Kobe’s stat line: 50 points (17-of-35 shooting, 4-of-9 on threes), six rebounds, three assists, three steals
The story: Phil Jackson discussed going to Kobe early on with his team instead of waiting for late-game heroics.
“He had been playing the team role,” instead of attacking early on Jackson said via AP. “But there's just not enough time right now in the season to develop that."
The message was received. Instead of scoring 31 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, Bryant torched Minnesota for 14 points in the first 8:12. His aggression helped build a 17-point first quarter lead that Los Angeles never gave up.
Bryant’s back-to-back games of 50 or more points marked the first Laker to do so since Elgin Baylor’s three such consecutive games. In the 10 years preceding Bryant, only two players had accomplished that feat: Antawn Jamison (December 2000) and Allen Iverson (December 2004).
"At this point in the season, it's important that I stress the sense of urgency that we have to have, and the type of emotion and energy that you have to play with," Bryant said, via AP.
March 22, 2007 - Lakers 121, Grizzlies 119
Kobe’s stat line: 60 points (20-of-37 shooting, three-of-seven on threes, 17-of-18 from the line), five rebounds, four assists
The story: Bryant became the fourth player in NBA history to score 50 or more points in three consecutive games, joining Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor and Michael Jordan. For him, getting his Lakers team out of a funk was more important than the career milestone.
"It's special because it's coming off three straight wins," Bryant said via AP. "This is a stretch where we really need to make up some ground.
“Growing up I idolized all of them, from Wilt, to M.J. to Elgin. It's a tremendous honor to be in that same class with those guys and in the history books."
Bryant scored 17 points in the third quarter to lift Los Angeles to a much-needed win over Memphis. Oddly enough, Pau Gasol finished with 35 points and 15 rebounds. It may have been this night the Mamba took note of his future running mate.
March 23, 2007 - Lakers 111, Hornets 105
Kobe’s stat line: 50 points (16-of-29 shooting, 2-of-5 on threes, 16-of-16 on free throws), seven rebounds, one assist
The story: Two weeks earlier, Bryant had been suspended one game for swiping at Timberwolves guard Marko Jaric. Jackson said the punishment served as incentive for his soon-to-be MVP guard to go on a scoring rampage.
"Remember that suspension two weeks ago?" Jackson said via AP. "I think this has motivated him. I don't know if we like to have suspensions all of the time work for us, but there were some things there that motivated him."
Bryant cemented himself in NBA lore as one of just two players to record four straight 50-point performances, the other being Chamberlain. The Lakers guard used his historic achievement as a teaching moment for younger basketball fans.
"It's a tremendous honor for me to be in the same (category) with those guys," Bryant said via AP. "The coolest thing about it is this younger generation gets a chance to learn about Elgin Baylor, gets a chance to learn about Wilt Chamberlain and some of the things that they've accomplished, so that the legacy will continue to live on."
Bryant’s streak came to an end on March 25, 2007
He scored just 43 points on 15-of-33 shooting. Bryant’s streak of consecutive games with 50-plus points was broken.
"Off-night," Bryant said with a smile.
He did, however, lead Los Angeles to its fifth straight victory. The Lakers took down the Golden State Warriors, 115-113. Finally, he had some help.
Smush Parker gave Bryant 13 points, and Lamar Odom scored 24 points on 73 percent shooting. The Lakers’ bench also helped out with 25 points.
Still, Bryant’s historic tear had come to an end. Even though he scored 43 points, the league MVP had fallen back to Earth. His name had officially been etched into the record books.
"I've always said Wilt's a human video game,” Bryant said. “For me to be in the same breath with him, even if it's a short little breath, is pretty cool."