One of the defining moments of Kobe Bryant's career was his infamous 81-point game. On January 22, 2006 he dropped 81 points on 28-of-46 shooting, including 7-of-13 from 3-point range, and 18-of-20 from the foul line.
His main opponent? Jalen Rose, who an 18-year-old Kobe once picked as his favorite player.
(via Philadelphia sports blog The 700 Level)
“Egan just cuts me off and turns to Kobe and goes, ‘Okay, let’s move on. Kobe. Kobe. Kobe. Who’s your favorite player?’
And Kobe just kinda sat there for a second thinking, hand on his chin (because this is a VERY serious question for a 16-year-old, your favorite basketball player says A LOT about you) and everyone’s sitting there waiting for a response, including Coach Egan, and Kobe eventually goes, ‘Hmmm, probably Jalen Rose.’ And Coach Egan was just like, ‘Jalen Rose? From Michigan?’ He wasn’t even angry, just kinda mega-super-bonkers confused. And Kobe was just like “yeah” and Coach Egan shook his head as if to say, ‘What the freak is wrong with teenagers’ and he seemed so defeated and so baffled …”
At the time, Rose was still plying his trade for the University of Michigan. And while most would say he had a successful NBA career, it certainly isn't a name people would associate with being one of Kobe's idols, especially back when Kobe was still a teenager.
But there's no denying that fact now and the fact that he would eventually drop 81 points on him really makes it even better.