The Pulse: Kobe Bryant

Welcome to The Pulse, the place to find out what the sports world is thinking. Every day on ESPN.com, SportsNation registers its opinion on a wide range of topics by casting votes and chatting with experts in The Show. We collect the daily highlights and put them in The Pulse.

Story of the Day: Kobe Bryant LXXXI

It was going to take a lot for any weekend sports story to overshadow the Seahawks and Steelers earning their way to Super Bowl XL. So Kobe Bryant put up LXXXI points on the Raptors. Mission accomplished.

Bryant's 81 points against the Raptors, the most since Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 against the Knicks in 1962, captivated SportsNation far more than two blowout postseason football games. In fact, 54 percent of voters rated his performance as the weekend's top story, ahead of the combined vote for the NFL playoffs and the final three unbeatens losing in college hoops.

How noteworthy was Bryant's performance? He shot 61 percent from the field and scored 66 percent of the Lakers' points in the game, and that's what SportsNation voters consider the least remarkable aspect of the stat line. That's what happens when a guy puts up more points in one half than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar ever put up in an entire game.

Which of the following facts about Bryant's performance is most impressive? (9,247 votes)
39.3% 55 points in second half equals Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's career high for an entire game
34.3% 99 times this season a team has scored fewer than 81 points in a game
26.3% Scoring 66% of team's points (81 of 122) on 61% shooting (28-for-46)

So exactly what does scoring 81 points mean? Check this out. On Jan. 12, 19% of SportsNation voters considered Kobe the NBA's best player, behind both LeBron James and Tim Duncan. But after Sunday's big game, 41% now consider Kobe the best, the same percentage that voted for either LeBron or Tim.

Which story was the biggest this past weekend? (62,435 votes)
54.4% Kobe Bryant scores 81 points
32.6% Super Bowl XL set
12.8% Last three NCAA unbeatens fall

Do you think Bryant will become the second player to score 100 points in a game? (9,247 votes)
72.2% No
27.7% Yes

The Lakers (22-19) are currently the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference. Do you think they will make the playoffs? (9,247 votes)
75.7% Yes
24.3% No

Which individual sports accomplishment would you most like to see in person? (9,247 votes)
37.0% A pitcher throw a perfect game
33.3% A basketball player score 70 points or more
13.9% A football player score or throw for 6 touchdowns or more
9.7% A batter hit 4 or more home runs
3.2% A golfer shoot 60 or under
3.0% A hockey player score 6 or more goals

  • Click here to vote on Kobe's big game

    Voice of the Fan
    All I can say as an NBA fan about Kobe's 81 points is ... wow!
    Devlin (Minnesota)

    The list is impressive: Kobe has made peace with Shaq, signed on for Olympic duty and scored 81 points in a game. So it says something about how much his star had dimmed that only 51% of voters say he has rehabilitated his public image.

    "Kobe's doing all he can to shed his P.R. issues. Getting on board with the Olympics, saying the right things, scoring a TON of points. I'm not sure what more he could do to win back fans."
    Reggie (Orladno, Fla.) in the Quickie chat.

    So I guess this is what would've happened if Kobe played the fourth quarter earlier in the season.
    Domes (Pittsburgh)

    Bryant is the best player in the NBA. Too bad the rest of the team can only score 30 points combined.
    Brendan (Boston)

    What else can you say but WOW! Even the haters have to say WOW!
    Kevin (Burlington)

    Because it is the modern era and Kobe is a guard, it is more impressive than Wilt's 100 points.
    Tom (Orlando)

    Kobe's 81 is a phenomenal feat. I was amazed to watch his performance in this game. I cannot stand Kobe Bryant, but his 81-point performance was thrilling and everything that sports should be.
    Josh (Clintwood)

    Do you think Kobe's goal this season is to win a championship, or have one game where he takes every shot and scores every single point for the Lakers?
    John (Portland, Maine)

    I can't stand Kobe Bryant, but you have no choice but to respect 81. That's completely unreal.
    Charles (Pittsburgh)

    What I thought this did was highlight how good Wilt Chamberlain was. I mean he didn't have a three-pointer. You take those away from Kobe and he has 60 points.
    Scott (Boston)

  • Click here for the Morning Quickie chat

    SportsNation's Show: Kobe Bryant
    Aubin (Hobart, Ind.): What do you think about Kobe Bryant? I saw it on SportsCenter last night, and I am still not over it! Do you think you'll ever see anything like it again?

    John Hollinger: As you'll read in my story today, I think once you adjusted for the difference in era, Kobe's 81 is actually more impressive than Chamberlain's 100. No matter what your thoughts are on Bryant, what he did last night was simply awesome.

    Ronald (San Francisco): Marc Stein says it's the greatest individual performance ever. I think I agree with that. Do you think that Kobe will ever be better than Jordan? I think offensively he's better than MJ, but MJ has the power to change the entire game whenever he wants to, especially in clutch situations.

    John Hollinger: Sorry, but Kobe isn't in Jordan's league. He's never had a single season that approached Jordan's best years, much less a string of them in succession. What he's had are moments -- single games, like last night, where he's looked like the best player on earth. But MJ was far more consistent.

    John (California): With Kobe's 81 points last night, do you see him holding the MVP trophy if the Lakers can make it to the second round in the playoffs?

    John Hollinger: The MVP vote comes after the regular season, so playoff performance will have no bearing on it. As for MVP, if Kobe can get the Lakers to 45-50 wins, he's going to get a lot of consideration, especially after last night. What will hurt him, however, are a few efforts like the selfish gunning in OT against Sacramento that remove some of the luster from incredible performances like last night's.

    Ron (North Hills): With Kobe going as good as he is, would you trade Lamar Odom and a draft pick for Ron Artest? The rumors are that the Pacers are interested in Odom and the numbers work.

    John Hollinger: Obviously something like this is a calculated risk, but Phil Jackson's track record with Dennis Rodman tells me there's a good chance he could keep Artest under control. If I was LA I would be very tempted.

  • Click here for Hollinger's chat transcript

    Missed an edition of The Pulse? Click here to check out the archive!