Fourteen years ago on December 17, 2006, former Washington Wizards point guard Gilbert Arenas made history. Scoring 60 points in an overtime victory against the Los Angeles Lakers, Arenas set a new single-game franchise scoring mark. It was a moment Arenas and Washington fans will never forget.
There was someone else who would always remember the game, too: Kobe Bryant.
Bryant was on the other side of Arenas' huge day, and while he dropped 45 points he still played second fiddle. The ultimate competitor, it's no surprise that performance gave Bryant a chip on his shoulder for future meetings. Taunting by Arenas certainly did not help, as Bryant would dominate the following matchup.
Years removed from the game, it was still something on Bryant's mind. In a recent interview with NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller, Arenas recalled a conversation he had with Bryant, and his daughter Gigi during a basketball tournament at Mamba Academy.
Arenas stated that Bryant told his daughter: “This is the son of a (expletive) that scored 60 on me."
Gigi replied: "Yeah, he talks about you all the time."
It makes sense that Bryant would share the story of that date 14 years ago. Arenas was on another level, even dropping 14 consecutive points in overtime. Bryant said after the game that the point guard has "no conscience."
Yet, the two's relationship went way beyond that one moment in time. Arenas admired Bryant when he entered the NBA, and as shown by these stories, the two grew mutual respect for one another based on their play on the court.
When Arenas retired from the game of basketball, Bryant was there to help him discover what should come next. Bryant advised Arenas to stop "being an internet troll" and put his basketball knowledge to good use for the next generation of players.
Bryant and Gigi tragically died in a helicopter accident on January 26, 2020, but Bryant's influence still impacts Arenas to this day. In the wake of the heartbreaking news, Arenas knew he had to honor Bryant's wishes and continue to help the game of basketball.
“Once the tragedy happened, I was like I’m going to go full bore,” Arenas said.
So while December 17, 2006, was a day remembered for Arenas scoring 60 points, it was much more than that for him. It was a moment in Bryant and Arenas' special relationship, one the former Wizards point guard treasures every day.