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25 NBA Legends And Superstars Career-Highs In Points: Wilt Chamberlain Holds The Record With 100 Points, Kobe Bryant Is No. 2 With 81 Points

25 NBA Legends And Superstars Career-Highs In Points: Wilt Chamberlain Holds The Record With 100 Points, Kobe Bryant Is No. 2 With 81 Points

Scoring the ball is a facet of the game that is most attractive and sought after when it comes to fans being captivated. Especially in today's NBA, the game is all about getting buckets, and offensive schemes have never been better. But throughout history, the greatest scorers of all time have had incredible performances when it comes to scoring a ton of points. Specifically, each of the 25 greatest players ever has had exceptional career-high performances when it comes to scoring. But which player does that best when looking at each player’s greatest scoring performances?

We have selected the top 25 players of all time and deduced their greatest scoring performances in a single game. The top 25 players are taken from the greatest 75 players of all time tier article. Of course, Wilt Chamberlain famously had the greatest scoring performance of all time when he dropped 100 points in a single game on March 2, 1962. But which of the other top-24 players of all time came close to the all-time great center? Here is the career-high scoring performance by each of the 25 greatest players ever.

Bill Russell - 37 Points

Dates: December 17, 1967

Stats: 37 Points, 19 Rebounds, 7 Assists

Bill Russell was known to be a defensive enforcer over his career, and scoring the ball was never his main priority. That was because he played with elite offensive players, including John Havlicek, meaning Russell was focused on rebounding and defending the rim. With a career average of 15.1 PPG, Russell was a very solid presence around the rim but is not to be confused for an elite scorer. Bill had his career-high come on December 17, 1967, and he managed 19 rebounds as well.

Julius Erving - 45 Points

Date: November 1, 1980

Stats: 45 Points, 9 Rebounds, 4 Assists, 3 Steals, 4 Blocks

Dr. J, Julius Erving, is one of the greatest athletes of all time. The superstar wing player was known to be an excellent rim penetrator over his career, and he posted his career-high 45 points in the 1980-81 season. Adding in solid stats, including 9 rebounds, 3 steals, and 4 blocks, Erving did it all on the floor for the Philadelphia 76ers. Erving’s career-high of 24.2 PPG is certainly impressive, which is why it was expected that Erving had at least a few 50-point games to his resume, but he does not.

Magic Johnson - 46 Points

Date: December 23, 1986

Stats: 46 Points, 10 Rebounds, 9 Assists, 1 Steal, 0 Blocks

Obviously, Magic Johnson is widely regarded as the greatest point guard of all time and has to be recognized as the best playmaker of all time. The legendary playmaker led the “Showtime” Lakers to an incredibly dominant offense, and he was one of the most unselfish players ever. Of course, Magic was capable of scoring the ball, as evidenced by his career 19.5 PPG average. Johnson had a nice hook shot around the rim and could back down smaller guards to finish over them. Although known as a streaky shooter, Magic could also nail open shots rather consistently. His career-high performance came on December 23, 1986, while he, of course, almost had a triple-double.

Kevin Garnett - 47 Points

Date: January 4, 2005

Stats: 47 Points, 17 Rebounds, 4 Assists, 2 Steals, 0 Blocks

One of the most intense competitors in NBA history, Kevin Garnett had to create an edge to gain an advantage over the bigger players he played against over his career. Garnett was a slender power forward who focused on more of a finesse skill set, as he had an elite mid-range jumper and a nice fadeaway. Garnett was also active, rolling to the rim and getting putbacks, and his defense was also exceptional. The Big Ticket posted 47 points in a career-high performance against the Phoenix Suns in 2005.

Charles Barkley - 47 Points

Date: February 9, 1988

Stats: 47 Points, 15 Rebounds, 2 Assists, 3 Steals, 0 Blocks

Charles Barkley is one of the greatest players of all time and occupies most of the top-25 lists ever. The power forward was a force on the court, mainly on the offensive end, as he managed to average a career 22.2 PPG over his illustrious career. A rather undersized forward at 6’6”, Barkley overcame his lack of height with tremendous aggression and basketball IQ. Of course, Barkley had some incredible scoring performances over his career, but his best came on February 9, 1988, in a showdown against the Atlanta Hawks, when he scored 47 points and grabbed 15 rebounds.

Giannis Antetokounmpo - 52 Points

Date: March 17, 2019

Stats: 52 Points, 16 Rebounds, 7 Assists, 2 Steals, 1 Block

Giannis is currently averaging 21.8 PPG on 53.5% shooting from the field over his future Hall of Fame career. He is also shooting 71.8% from the free-throw line and only 28.8% from three. It's amazing how Giannis can score so well despite not being a natural shooter from the perimeter because he checks every other box. The forward has incredible ball-handling skills and an unstoppable ability to get to the rim whenever he wants. Even if he cannot shoot as well as others at his position, he can score just as well. The Greek Freak posted his career-high 52 points against the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2018-19 season.

Hakeem Olajuwon - 52 Points

Date: April 19, 1990

Stats: 52 Points, 18 Rebounds, 4 Assists, 3 Steals, 3 Blocks

The best player to ever play for the Houston Rockets by a huge margin, Hakeem Olajuwon was not only the best post-scorer in NBA history but also one of the most skilled all-around offensive players of all time. “The Dream” was not only a special talent but a championship superstar as he won 2 straight NBA championships in 1994 and 1995 and won both Finals MVPs. Thanks to the “Dream Shake” move and an efficient jumper, Hakeem averaged over 20 PPG for 13 straight seasons and had his career-high performance come against the Denver Nuggets when he posted 52 points.

Dirk Nowitzki - 53 Points

Date: December 2, 2004

Stats: 53 Points, 16 Rebounds, 2 Assists, 3 Steals, 4 Blocks

A legendary German superstar, Dirk Nowitzki was one of the pioneers of stretch big men. The way he played was unique, and he really changed the way bigs play the game. Nowitzki might be the best shooting big man of all time, thanks to his beautiful high-arcing shot that is impossible to block. Dirk could shoot from anywhere on the court, and his ability to get hot from the perimeter as a big man is one of the rarest skill sets a big can possess. The Mavericks legend scored an incredible 53 points against the Houston Rockets, going 15-32 from the floor, including 2-5 from three and 21-22 from the free-throw line.

Tim Duncan - 53 Points

Date: December 26, 2001

Stats: 53 Points, 11 Rebounds, 4 Assists, 0 Steals, 3 Blocks

Tim Duncan, an absolute superstar of a power forward, was able to assert his talent and supremacy in the NBA as soon as he stepped foot on an NBA court. The Big Fundamental succeeded in unseating the great David Robinson as the Spurs' finest player, and he was given the know-how to dominate the postseason as well. A player with a powerful center of gravity, Duncan dominated the post and dropped his career-high 53 points against the Dallas Mavericks on December 26, 2001.

Moses Malone - 53 Points

Date: February 2, 1982

Stats: 53 Points, 22 Rebounds, 4 Assists, 2 Steals, 1 Block

Moses Malone, the late legendary center, made his reputation as a ferocious offensive rebounder and paint scorer over his career, which eventually led him to the Hall of Fame. A massive player with a limitless motor, Malone was a force on the court for the Houston Rockets and Philadelphia 76ers. Solidifying himself as one of the game’s all-time great centers, Moses was the most feared rebounder during his time with the Rockets and also made it look effortless when he scored the ball. Moses dropped his career-high 53 points while adding 22 rebounds against the San Diego Clippers during the 1982 season.

Kevin Durant - 55 Points

Date: April 2, 2022

Stats: 55 Points, 7 Rebounds, 3 Assists, 1 Steal, 0 Blocks

Unsurprisingly, Kevin Durant had an all-time great scoring performance as a top-25 talent of all time. Durant is one of the top five scorers in NBA history because his ability to handle the ball and score from anywhere on the court is sublime. Durant took what George Gervin did but added an elite long-range shot that he can pull off from 30+ feet. Durant is a 4-time scoring champion and has the 4th highest career PPG average in NBA history, but rather unexpectedly, his career-high came in 2022 with the Brooklyn Nets when he dropped 55 points against the Atlanta Hawks.

Dwyane Wade - 55 Points

Date: April 12, 2009

Stats: 55 Points, 9 Rebounds, 4 Assists, 0 Steals, 1 Block

Mr. Miami Heat himself, Dwyane Wade had one of the most dominant offensive seasons in the Heat's franchise history in 2009 when he won his only scoring title by posting 30.2 PPG. A sublime slasher in his prime, the shooting guard, posted his career-high in 2009 when he dropped 55 points on 63.3% shooting from the field. Flash, as Shaquille O'Neal called him a few years back, was easily a top-2 shooting guard in the game during the season, and his ability to knife through traffic made him an unstoppable offensive player.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - 55 Points

Date: December 10, 1971

Stats: 55 Points, 17 Rebounds, 3 Assists

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is widely considered the most accomplished big man in NBA history. After all, he is a 6-time NBA champion and 6-time MVP who dominated on both ends of the floor. But Kareem is also the leading scorer in NBA history in terms of total points. Kareem's best season came in 1972, the season he made his 3rd All-Star Team and averaged 16.6 RPG as well. His career-high scoring performance came in December of that season when he posted a career-high 55 points on 63.9% shooting from the field against the Boston Celtics.

Oscar Robertson - 56 Points

Date: December 18, 1964

Stats: 56 Points, 9 Rebounds, 12 Assists

Oscar Robertson was the greatest stat-sheet stuffer at the point guard position ever. Oscar Robertson was the first player to ever average a triple-double in a single season, and he was also one of the greatest ever talents to pick up a basketball. To many who watched Oscar Robertson, he is easily a top-10 player of all time. Oscar won a whopping 6 assist titles in his NBA career, but he was also an all-time great scorer due to his gifts as an athlete and basketball star. Robertson scored 56 points while almost dropping a triple-double in a matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers on December 18, 1964.

Larry Bird - 60 Points

Date: March 12, 1985

Stats: 60 Points, 7 Rebounds, 3 Assists, 0 Steals, 0 Blocks

There have been countless Celtics players over the years to dominate the scoring charts. But no player did it like Larry Bird, arguably the greatest Celtic to have ever lived. The Hall of Famer had the purest jump shot in the league, and his high release was unguardable. Bird dropped 60 points in a single game for the Celtics, and it came against the Atlanta Hawks. Larry Bird is an icon for the game, and his scoring was arguably the third-greatest aspect of his game because his rebounding and playmaking were off the charts. That made his 60-point performance even more impressive at the time.

LeBron James - 61 Points

Date: March 3, 2014

Stats: 61 Points, 7 Rebounds, 4 Assists, 0 Steals, 0 Blocks

The player who will soon surpass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the record of most points scored in the regular season, LeBron James, is not known as a score-first player. The King scores mainly through his elite athleticism and basketball IQ, but he still had an all-time great career when it came to getting buckets. James had his career-high come in 2014 with the Miami Heat when he dropped 61 points. The lowly Charlotte Hornets had no shot at stopping The King, which is why he shot 66.7% from the floor.

Shaquille O’Neal - 61 Points

Date: March 6, 2000

Stats: 61 Points, 23 Rebounds, 3 Assists, 0 Steals, 0 Blocks

Shaquille O'Neal was one of the most dominant scorers we have ever seen, averaging a career 23.7 PPG. The big man did not waste time in getting himself in position in the post, using his size to punish opposing bigs. With a consistent post hook, Shaq also had a go-to move. Throughout his career, Shaq averaged over 25 PPG 10 times and won a scoring title. In terms of his best scoring performance, O’Neal dropped 61 points and added 23 rebounds in his greatest individual performance against the rival Los Angeles Clippers.

Karl Malone - 61 Points

Date: January 27, 1990

Stats: 61 Points, 18 Rebounds, 2 Assists, 3 Steals, 0 Blocks

Unsurprisingly, Karl Malone appears on the list of all the great scorers in NBA history as a top-25 player of all time. The superstar power forward was one of the most unstoppable scorers ever. In 1,669 total games played, The Mailman scored over 41,000 points. Somehow, Karl Malone could not win an NBA title despite being an all-time great scorer and having arguably the best assist man ever in John Stockton by his side. Nonetheless, Malone scored a career-high 61 points against the Milwaukee Bucks while shooting 80.8% from the field, quite incredibly.

Stephen Curry - 62 Points

Date: January 3, 2021

Stats: 62 Points, 5 Rebounds, 4 Assists, 0 Steals, 0 Blocks

Stephen Curry’s career-high in scoring came during the 2020-21 season as a member of the Golden State Warriors. The superstar point guard went ballistic on the Trail Blazers’ defense, nailing 18-31 shots from the field, including 8-16 from three and 18-19 from the free-throw line. Anytime a shooter of Curry’s caliber nails 8 three-pointers, it is obvious that he will score over 50 points with ease, especially in today’s NBA. Thanks to Steph’s offensive explosion, the Warriors won the game 137-122. Steph has 10 games of scoring at least 50 points in his career, but his 62-point performance has to be one of the greatest games that the offensive player has played so far.

Jerry West - 63 Points

Date: January 17, 1962

Stats: 63 Points, 3 Rebounds, 3 Assists

Jerry West has a case for being called "Mr. Laker". Even though that title rightfully belongs to Kobe Bryant or Magic Johnson, Jerry West deserves credit for his longevity. West played 14 seasons with the Lakers, logging an average of around 39.2 MPG. West is one of the top-5 shooting guards to have ever lived, and he was a dominant player consistently for the Lakers. The reason why West is honored so much was because of his elite offensive ability, and his career-high came in 1962 when he dropped an incredible 63 points on 61.1% shooting from the field and 19-22 from the free-throw line.

Michael Jordan - 69 Points

Date: March 28, 1990

Stats: 69 Points, 18 Rebounds, 6 Assists, 4 Steals, 1 Block

Of course, the greatest player ever, Michael Jordan, would appear on this list. Jordan had 8 30+ PPG seasons over his career, but his best scoring performance in a single game came in the 1990 season. Jordan is widely regarded as the most dominant scorer ever because he could get the ball whenever he wanted, unlike big men who needed a guard to get them the ball. Jordan has done some spectacular things over his career, and his career 30.1 PPG scoring average ranks first all-time. Impressively, MJ managed to score a career-high 69 points while adding a career-high in rebounds against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

David Robinson - 71 Points

Date: April 24, 1994

Stats: 71 Points, 14 Rebounds, 5 Assists, 0 Steals, 2 Blocks

One of the most underrated players of all time and an exceptional two-way player, David Robinson once scored 71 points in a single game for the San Antonio Spurs. The Admiral managed his career-high performance against the Los Angeles Clippers, and he amazingly shot 63.4% from the field, 18-25 from the free-throw line. Armed with a solid inside game, mid-range jumper, and forceful presence, Robinson dominated the court which is why the Spurs won the game handily 112-97.

Elgin Baylor - 71 Points

Date: November 15, 1960

Stats: 71 Points, 25 Rebounds, 1 Assist

There have been many great scorers in Lakers history, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Kobe Bryant. But neither superstar managed to usurp the second-highest scoring season ever set by Elgin Baylor. Baylor dropped 38.3 PPG for the Lakers, on 42.8% shooting from the field in a single season. His career-high in a game came in the 1961 season when he dropped 71 points and 25 rebounds against the New York Knicks. Baylor never won an NBA championship despite being a historically great player, which is the only reason he isn't mentioned among the top-10 players ever. But his scoring was the stuff of legends, and his career-high performance is probably a figure that won't get passed by any current Laker ever.

Kobe Bryant - 81 Points

Date: January 22, 2006

Stats: 81 Points, 6 Rebounds, 2 Assists, 3 Steals, 1 Block

Nobody could have imagined that a modern player could score at least 80 points in a single game. But Kobe Bryant did it during the 2006 season as a member of the storied Los Angeles Lakers franchise, as the player singlehandedly defeated an entire NBA team by himself. The Lakers were losing to the Raptors at halftime, but Bryant put the team on his back to have an incredible 28-46 performance, including 7-13 from three while adding 18-20 from the free-throw line. Of course, Bryant’s outburst caused the second-highest scoring performance ever by any player.

Wilt Chamberlain - 100 Points

Date: March 2, 1962

Stats: 100 Points, 25 Rebounds, 2 Assists

It is only fitting that Wilt Chamberlain appears #1 in this list. Arguably the most dominant center ever played, Wilt dropped 50.4 PPG for the Golden State Warriors in 1962. Wilt also averages 25.7 RPG while shooting 50.6% that season as well. Of course, his iconic 100-point performance came during the season in an effort against the New York Knicks. It seems a lot of the top players ever seem to love competing against the Knicks. No player in history, ever again, will come close to averaging 50 PPG for a season, let alone scoring 100 points in a single contest. It's just physically impossible, which shows the mental and physical advantage that Wilt had when he dominated the game in his prime.


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