It was 10 years ago today that Kobe Bryant put forth one of, if not the most impressive scoring performance in NBA history when he scored 81 points against the Toronto Raptors.
There have been many people who have spoken about that amazing night, but very few times has it come from the players on the other side of that performance. One of those players is current Dallas Mavericks forward Charlie Villanueva, who was a rookie on that Raptors team.
In a piece for The Players’ Tribune, Villanueva recalled that night, using a familiar comparison, but in a completely different way:
When people ask what it was like to be on the court for The Black Mamba’s masterpiece, and I tell them, “It was like a video game” … I don’t mean it from a visual perspective at all. I don’t need to see it. I saw it.
No — when I talk about Kobe’s performance that night, I mean it from the other perspective of video games. That you’re playing against a machine.
Anybody who has played video games can recall an experience where they felt helpless against video game Artificial Intelligence or ‘AI,’ and that is how Villanueva felt against Kobe that night.
Villanueva also spoke about the Raptors game plan coming into the game and how they really believed it was working throughout most of the game as well as how everyone in the NBA was following everything that Kobe was doing that season. It was one of the most remarkable seasons any player has ever had, and the 81-point game is the moment that will never be forgotten.