Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

61 (on LeBron James scoring 61 against the Charlotte Bobcats)

This appears on

by rick olivares
photo by isaac baldizon/NBA via Getty Images

No, I am not referring to Roger Maris’ once-Major League Baseball record for home runs in a single season.

That’s LeBron James single-highest game total to date. He scored that much in a home game against the Charlotte Bobcats last March 3.

Ah, it’s the Bobcats, you say. David Robinson once dropped 71 points on the woeful Los Angeles Clippers on April 24, 1994. That binge helped the Admiral pip then Shaquille O’Neal, then playing for the Orlando Magic, for the scoring title.

Of course, it’s easy to drop a ton of points on the league patsies.

Charlotte is currently seventh in the Eastern Conference playoff standings with a 27-33 record. They’ve lost three straight and are 5-5 in their last 10 outings. 

Yet despite their poor record, Charlotte is fifth in the league in allowing points. That means they play good defense. Indiana, the best defensive team in the NBA this season allows 91.2 points per game. Second best is Chicago (surprisingly because they don’t have Derrick Rose and Luol Deng) with 92.3.

Memphis and Toronto are third and fourth respectively with 95.1 and 97.1. The Bobcats are at fifth by allowing 97.5. The Miami team that dropped them the other night is ranked only seventh defensively with 98.3 points allowed.

The 134 points surrendered isn’t the largest number of points Charlotte has surrendered this season. The Portland Trailblazers hung 134 on them points on them in a loss in a January 2 loss in Oregon. Charlotte is 8-14 when allowing over a hundred points in a game.  

Taking a look at the highest scoring games in NBA history, how many times did the player who filled up the stat sheet beat a team with a losing record.

Wilt Chamberlain scored a hundred points against a Knicks team that finished 29-51 in 1961-62.

The second highest individual scoring game was by Kobe Bryant who drilled 81 for the Los Angeles Lakers against the 27-55 Toronto Raptors during the 2005-06.

Curiously, the third highest individual scoring game – Wilt putting up 78 for Chamberlain’s Philadelphia Warriors – was in a loss to the Lakers that went to the NBA Finals.

Furthermore, in the Top 20 individual scoring performances in NBA history, 14 of those games came against teams with losing records.

Having said all of that, does that belittle these players’ – from Wilt to Kobe to Davids Robinson and Thompson to Michael Jordan to Elgin Baylor and Pete Maravich -- achievements?

Not at all.

You see… save for Bryant who is still playing, all these other players are in the Basketball Hall of Fame. They were the standard for ballers when they were running the hardcourt. They never took a day off when they were playing. They played hard and have been rewarded for their efforts. Even during the dog days of a NBA season when teams are tanking and others are bored and just waiting for the playoffs, these superstars bring it.

It is not like an aberration. LeBron James scored 61 while wearing a protective mask due to a broken nose. His Heat have made the NBA Finals for three straight years – winning two titles – are look every bit the favorite to win another one. James has hauled home a cartload of awards in 11 years in the NBA. It doesn’t look like he’s even far from done.

Despite the naysayers and haters out there, let’s not make James’ 61 points look infinitesimal like when Roger Maris chased Babe Ruth’s home run record during the 1961 MLB season.

LeBron after all is on a mission in a year when the Indiana Pacers hope to knock the Heat off their lofty perch and when Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant is competing for the MVP Award.

Greatness, even against a Bobcats team, means never taking the night off.

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