Several tributes have recently been given to deceased NBA superstar Kobe Bryant after the unfortunate helicopter crash that killed him, his daughter, and seven others last week. Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving gave his own tribute by scoring 54 points in their 133-188 win against the Chicago Bulls last Friday, and credited his performance to Kobe Bryant's "Mamba Mentality."
It's an emotional return for a lot of players in the NBA. The league even postponed a few games to give players, fans, and the basketball world as a whole, time to honour the life and death of one of the best players of all time.
Kyrie Irving honoured Bryant and his style of play by scoring 54 points against the Bulls. It is the second-highest ever tally scored by a Nets player. The most amazing part is not the total score itself, but how he did it. According to Fox Sports Australia, Irving shot 19-23 on the field, including 7-9 behind the arc. That's an impressive 82.6 percent field goal shooting. In the post-game interview, Irving claimed that it was Kobe's signature "mamba mentality" to "keep going and scoring." which helped him achieve the feat. He shot a mind-blowing 10-10 perfect score in the first half, including a final play steal and Hail Mary shot in the dying seconds of the second quarter.
Bryant is one of the league's most prolific scorers. He is currently in 4th place in all-time points made, and he averaged 25 points per game in his career. In the 2005-2006 season, he averaged as high as 35.4 points a game. He holds the second-most points scored in a single game record with 81 points. He could have scored more, but was taken out of the fourth quarter with the Lakers already having a commanding lead. He also scored 60 points in his last game as an NBA player against the Utah Jazz on April 13, 2016.
Irving, in the meantime, is averaging 26.8 points a game this season. It's his first season with the Brooklyn Nets, and that is the highest scoring average in his career so far.