In a dominant scoring performance for the ages, Phoenix Suns shooting guard Devin Booker put up 70 points on Friday night (March 24) against the Boston Celtics as his team came up short 130-120.
He made 21 of 40 field goal attempts including four three-pointers, and 24 of 26 from the free throw line, adding eight rebounds and six assists. Booker scored 51 points alone in the second half.
Booker's effort broke a slew of past records. At 20 years old, he became the youngest player to score 60 or more points in a National Basketball Association (NBA) game. In addition, he broke the Phoenix Suns' franchise records for most points scored in a game and most free throws made.
Booker joins an exclusive club of five other players who have scored 70 or more in an NBA game. Here's a look at these five:
1. Wilt Chamberlain (Philadelphia Warriors) - scored 70-plus six times
Chamberlain was a one-of-a-kind player during his era, when he was simply too strong and powerful for most defenders while playing for the Philadelphia Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers over a 14-year career from 1959 to 1973.
Notorious for his obsession with breaking records, Chamberlain scored 100 points in a 1962 game against the New York Knicks, a feat no other player has even come close to since.
Chamberlain, who died in 1999, is also the only player to have scored 70 points or more multiple times.
2. Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers) - 81 points against the Toronto Raptors, Jan 22, 2006
Bryant ended up a ways off from Chamberlain's record, but he still shocked a league and fan base which had grown accustomed to thinking that gaudy point totals were a thing of the past.
NBA fans were more than familiar with the Black Mamba's ball-dominant and shot-jacking play style by then, but Bryant also had himself a historically accurate shooting night, going 28 of 46 from the field (60.3 per cent). To put that number in perspective, Bryant shot 44.7 per cent for the field for his career.
The 38-year-old capped off a glittering career in his final NBA game last April by scoring 60 points.
Booker credited Bryant for inspiring his own 70-point feat.
"[Kobe] said, he never set himself a limit. And you know, that always sticks in my head. He said he'd score 100 if he could, so he never had a limit. I don't put a limit on anything," Booker said.
3. David Thompson (Denver Nuggets) - 73 points against the Detroit Pistons, April 9, 1978
David who? In his prime, David Thompson was one of the deadliest scorers to ever play the game, averaging 27.2 points per game in the season when he scored 73 points.
But, persistent struggles with substance abuse and injuries cut short a potentially legendary career after just nine years (six of them drug-free).
Blessed with boundless athleticism, which he coupled with an arsenal of offensive skills, Thompson was looked up to by a then teenager in the same mould who would later go on to be one of the game's greatest ever players.
The teenager's name? Michael Jordan.
4. Elgin Baylor (Los Angeles Lakers) - 71 points against the New York Knicks, Nov 15, 1960
Baylor was one of the pioneering African-American players in the NBA during a time when racism and prejudice were prevalent in the league and the country.
In one such incident recounted in Terry Pluto's book Tall Tales, the Los Angeles Lakers were supposed to play in an exhibition game in Charleston, West Virginia, when the team learned that their three black players could not check into their hotel or eat anywhere in the town except the Greyhound bus station.
Said Baylor: "[T]he indignity of a hotel clerk acting as if you aren't there, or people who won't sell you a sandwich because you're black ... those are the things you never forget."
Together with Boston Celtics legend and fellow African-American Bill Russell, Baylor's explosiveness and leaping ability helped transform NBA basketball from a largely horizontal affair played out mostly on the ground to the lightning-quick pace and soaring acrobatics of today.
5. David Robinson (San Antonio Spurs) - 71 points against the Los Angeles Clippers, April 24, 1994
Robinson's scoring outburst comes with a rather dramatic backstory. Going into the final game of the 1993-94 regular season, Robinson and fellow star center Shaquille O'Neal were neck and neck for that season's scoring title (the highest points per game average).
O'Neal put up 32 points for the Orlando Magic in his last game to finish with a 29.3 points per game average, setting the stage for Robinson's feat.
The Admiral, so called because he attended the United States Naval Academy before turning professional, was passed the ball by obliging teammates the entire night to eclipse his previous career-high of 52 points.
The 71 points were enough to ensure a comfortable margin between him and O'Neal: Robinson ended up with 29.8 points per game to secure the scoring title.