On March 3rd 2014, LeBron James set a career high with 61 points as the Miami Heat defeated the Charlotte Bobcats. LeBron made 22 of his 33 field goal attempts including 8 out of 10 from three point range and 9 out of 12 from the free throw line. In scoring 61 points, LeBron became the 22nd player to ever score 60 or more points in an NBA game. Ironically, earlier this season, Carmelo Anthony also joined the 60 point club when he scored, an NBA season high, 62 points against the same Charlotte Bobcats. Of those 22 players who’ve eclipsed 60 points, they have achieved this feat a total of 64 occasions in the NBA, which is insane because only four have done it multiple times.The list of players to have reached the 60 point milestone includes Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Allen Iverson, Karl Malone and Shaquille O’Neal. Surprisingly, the leading scorer in NBA history, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has never scored 60 points in the NBA.
This list shows the top ten highest single game scorers in NBA history. As mentioned earlier, four NBA players have scored 60 or more points on multiple occasions. For the purposes of this list, only their highest individual outputs were taken. As an example, Wilt Chamberlain has four of the five highest single game scoring totals in history but only his career high scoring feat was included on this list. Only one active NBA player made the list and it was not LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony. The list actually includes eleven players as there are three different players who are tied with a career high of 63 points.
T9. George Gervin – 63 Points in 1978
On April 9th, 1978, the final night of the 1977/1978 NBA regular season, San Antonio Spurs forward George Gervin clinched the scoring title with a 63 point scoring performance. Gervin’s scoring feat occurred in a 153-132 defeat to the New Orleans Jazz. Gervin was in a race for the scoring title with David Thompson and his 63 point performance helped him clinch the title by 0.07 PPG over Thompson. In 33 minutes of play, Gervin made 23 of 49 field goal attempts and made 17 of his 20 free throw attempts. Gervin scored 33 points in the second quarter of the game and had streaks where he scored 18 and 22 consecutive points for his team.
T9. Jerry West – 63 Points in 1962
Jerry West also has a career high of 63 points. The Los Angeles Lakers guard scored 63 points against the New York Knicks on January 17th, 1962. West achieved this feat in 39 minutes of play and became the first player to score 60 points in under 40 minutes of playing time. West took 36 shots during the game and made 22 of them. He also attempted 22 free throws and managed to convert 19 of those attempts. West like Gervin reached the 60 point mark without attempting any three point field goals, as the three point shot was instituted in the NBA in 1979.
T9. Joe Fulks – 63 Points in 1949
John Fulks was the first NBA player to score 60 points in a game. Fulks achieved this distinction in a game for the Philadelphia Warriors against the Indianapolis Jets on February 10th, 1949. Fulks scored 63 points in an era of play where there was no shot clock and teams rarely scored over 70 points in a game. Fulks made 27 of his 56 attempted field goals and 9 of his 14 attempted free throws. The 6 ft 5 Fulks was one of the first scoring forwards in the NBA and was one of the pioneers of the jump-shot. Fulks’ scoring record stood until Elgin Baylor broke it with 64 points in 1959.
8. Rick Barry – 64 Points in 1974
On March 26th, 1974, the Golden State Warriors defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 143-120. In the game, Warriors forward Rick Barry scored 64 points while making 30 of his 45 field goal attempts. Barry made 21 field goals in the second half of the game while scoring 45 points. The 6 ft 7 forward was a dominant scorer and a consistent rebounder in his tenure in the ABA. After suffering a major knee injury during the 1968/1969 season, Barry adjusted his game and became a perimeter scorer. Unfortunately for Barry, who had unlimited range on his jump-shots, he played before the NBA instituted a three point shot or his career scoring high might have been higher.
7. Pete Maravich – 68 Points in 1977
Pete Maravich is the all-time leading NCAA scorer with 3,667 points scored and an average of 44.2 points per game. Maravich achieved this distinction without the aid of a three point shot and despite sitting out his freshman season. On February 25th, 1977, Maravich set the NBA record for scoring in a game for a guard. He scored 68 points for the New Orleans Jazz against the New York Knicks. In 43 minutes, Maravich made 26 of 43 field goals and 16 of 19 free throws. Maravich also fouled out of the game with 1:18 remaining. The 1976/1977 season was Maravich’ best as a professional, as he scored 40 or more points on 13 different occasions and led the league in scoring with 31.1 PPG.
6. Michael Jordan – 69 Points in 1990
Michael Jordan scored 60 points or more on five different occasions. His career high scoring output came on March 28th, 1990 against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Jordan scored 69 points in 50 minutes of playing time while making 23 of his 37 field goal attempts and 21 of his 23 free throw attempts. This game also marked a career high for Jordan in terms of rebounding as he recorded 18 rebounds in the game. While the game against the Cavaliers was where Jordan recorded his career high, his most famous 60 point game came against the Boston Celtics in the 1986 playoffs. Jordan recorded 63 points against the eventual champions in a double overtime loss. His 63 points remains a playoff scoring record.
T4. David Robinson – 71 Points in 1994
The 1993/1994 scoring race was a close affair between Shaquille O’Neal and David Robinson. The race was still undecided going into the final regular season game. Robinson eventually won the award on the final day of the regular season when he scored 71 points against the Los Angeles Clippers. Robinson scored the first 18 points for the Spurs in the first quarter and he made 26 of his 41 field goal and 18 of his 25 free throw attempts throughout the game. Robinson has the distinction of being the only left-handed player in the 60 point club.
T4. Elgin Baylor – 71 Points in 1960
Elgin Baylor is one of four NBA players to have scored 60 or more points on more than one occasion. Baylor managed to achieve the feat on four separate occasions. Baylor was also the first NBA player to score 60 or more points multiple times and he is also the only player besides Michael Jordan to have scored 60 points in a playoff game; he scored 61 in an NBA Finals game against the Boston Celtics. On November 15th, 1960, Baylor set a record for scoring when he scored 71 points for the Los Angeles Lakers against the New York Knicks. Baylor made 28 of his 48 field goal attempts and 15 of his 18 free throw attempts during the game.
3. David Thompson – 73 Points in 1978
David Thompson was also in a scoring race that went to the last day of the season. Thompson was in a close race with the aforementioned George Gervin going into the last game of the regular season on April 9th 1978. Gervin ended up scoring 63 points to win the scoring title. Thompson may have lost out on the award, but the Denver Nuggets guard put forth a more memorable scoring performance. Thompson made 28 of his 38 field goal attempts and 17 of his 20 free throws and ended up scoring 73 points against the Detroit Pistons. He made 13 of his 14 shots in the first quarter and ended up scoring 53 points in the first half of the game.
2. Kobe Bryant – 81 Points in 2006
Only two NBA players have ever scored over 80 points in an NBA game. On January 22nd, 2006, Kobe Bryant became the second player to reach the 80 point plateau when he scored 81 points against the Toronto Raptors. Bryant made 28 of his 46 field goal attempts and 18 of his 20 free throws. In the second half of the game, Bryant outscored the Toronto Raptors single-handedly as he scored 55 points to their 41. Bryant played just under 42 minutes in a game that the Los Angeles Lakers won comfortably. If Bryant had played the full 48 minutes he may have had a chance to equal the all-time scoring record held by the last person on this list. Bryant has scored 60 points or more in the NBA five different times.
1. Wilt Chamberlain – 100 Points in 1962
Wilt Chamberlain holds the single game scoring record in the NBA. Chamberlain scored 100 points for the Philadelphia Warriors against the New York Knicks on March 2nd, 1962. Chamberlain attempted 63 shots in the game and ended up making 36 of them. He also made 28 of 32 free throw attempts. This memorable game was Chamberlain’s fourth consecutive game in which he scored over 60 points! He is one of four players to score 60 points or more on multiple occasions. Chamberlain is the only player to have scored 70 or more points on multiple occasions, which he did six different times. There have been 64 different times in which a player has scored 60 or more points in an NBA game and Chamberlain achieved the feat 32 times himself. Simply astonishing.
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