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by Mike Fisher    Thu, Jan 26, 2006, 10:12 AM

             This column is not about Kobe Bryant. Nor is this column about Wilt Chamberlain. Nor, really, is it specifically about Dirk Nowitzki.
              No, instead this column is about all the good players on all the good teams who don't score 81 points in a game. And it's about why they don't.
              Could Dirk Nowitzki, Chauncey Billups, Tim Duncan, Amare Stoudemire or Shaquille O'Neal ever score 60 or 70 or 80 points in a single game?
            I say yes.
             Would those individuals do it for their present teams?
               I say no.
                This is not to disrespect The Black Mamba; his 81-point night was delivered in a setting that actually required his ball-hoggishness; his team was behind and would not have beaten Toronto had Kobe not tallied a 27-point third quarter and a 28-point fourth quarter. On that Sunday night, it was not about showboating or Drama-Queening or endorsements or rape charges or being "The Next Jordan''-esque. It was about Bryant leading the Lakers to a come-from-behind win, and good for them. Kobe is being named by GQ as one of the five most hated athletes in pro sports. ... and that's good stuff for another column. But not here.
           Could Dirk and the rest of the aforementioned stars shoot themselves into the pantheon of all-time single-game scorers?
           Again, I say yes -- but at what cost?
             Kobe took 46 shots in that record-setting, headline-grabbing game. That outrageous number is justifiable, because a) his team won, and b) he made 61 percent of his shots.
              So would the Mavs, in a given game, be better off with Dirk absorbing not only his usual 19 shots per game, AND also swallowing up, say, Devin Harris' usual 8.2 shots AND also swallowing up Marquis Daniels' usual 10 shots AND also swallowing up Jerry Stackhouse's usual 8.6 shots?
            Because astoundingly, the number of shots The Black Mamba took that night equals the number of shots Dirk AND Devin AND 'Quis AND Stack take on a nightly basis.
                Forgetting for a moment what it would do to team chemistry if Nowitzki or Billups or Duncan suddenly decided to take 46 shots in a game (a thought that makes one wonder why Dr. Jerry Buss even bothers paying LA's assortment of Smush Parkers to even show up): What does it really mean when a guy scores 81 in a game?
             It means he's brilliantly gifted, yes. But more importantly, it means he's the right guy. ... in the wrong place at the wrong time.
              Why are Dirk Nowitzki, Chauncey Billups, Tim Duncan, Amare Stoudemire and Shaquille O'Neal unlikely, in their present positions with their present teams, to ever score 60 or 70 or 80 points in a single game?
              Because as of that Sunday night when Kobe's 81 pushed the Lakers to a 22-19 record, Dallas was 31-10 with at least six different Mavs being capable of being the team's top scorer. Detroit was 33-5 thanks to balance. San Antonio was 31-10 thanks to the unselfishness of leader Duncan. Phoenix was 26-14 with Steve Nash and Shawn Marion handling the scoring until Stoudemire gets back. And on and on we go, with good teams in Miami and Memphis and New Jersey exhibiting some balance.
             And mediocre-to-bad teams like Washington and Houston and yes, the Lakers, always threatening to stage an individual fireworks show.
            Think that's a coincidence?
          Think The Black Mamba understands that while he's now in the same "league,'' in a sense with Wilt, that Kobe's titles didn't happen as a result of being a lone star? Think he understands that being Chauncey Billups in Detroit is a better fate than being Kobe Bryant in LA? Think he understands that Wilt learned to supplement the ability to score 50 a game and rebound 22 a game with the ability to dish out 8.6 assists per game?
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