TDIKH: February 2

Feb. 2, 2009

30 years, 163 days

At the World’s Most Famous Arena, Kobe Bryant put on the building’s greatest show.

He exploded for a then-Madison Square Garden record 61 points to lead the Lakers past New York, 126-117.

“It’s a blessing to do what you love and have moments like this,” Bryant told reporters.

With Andrew Bynum out due to a knee injury, Bryant ensured that Los Angeles’ offense would not suffer, shooting 19-of-31 from the field and hitting all 20 free throw attempts in just 37 minutes.

“He was on fire from the start and finished the game almost the same way,” head coach Phil Jackson said. “That was a remarkable performance.”

Bryant — who struck from all across the floor — came out firing from the start, pouring in 34 points in the first half alone. He also piled up 15 in the final quarter to lead L.A. to a 20-point advantage with 2:33 left.

Bryant’s historic night resulted in him receiving “MVP!” chants from the hometown fans. It also covered up huge nights from his teammate, Pau Gasol (31 points, 14 rebounds), and three Knicks who scored 20-plus points.

Five years later, Carmelo Anthony topped Bryant’s arena record by one point.

Kobe performances on this day in history: