Throughout its history, the NBA has had its share of elite players. There are players who could score at will and take over the game when their team needed it most. And to do that, they had to put up big numbers.
When a player scores 40 or more points in a game, it changes the game. And for fans, it is exciting to see their favorite player in the zone. Here are the five players with the most 40 (or more) point games in NBA history.
1.) Wilt Chamberlain
Wilt Chamberlain is one of the best centers to play the game of basketball. At 7-foot-1 and 275 pounds, Chamberlain dominated in his era. Chamberlain played from 1959 to 1973, and never averaged less than 13 points. He averaged 13.2 points in the 1972-73 season, but this was his last year before retirement.
Chamberlain had 271 games of 40 or more points, including one of the most legendary performances ever. Chamberlain scored 100 points on March 2, 1962. This set an NBA record that has yet to be reached. And sadly, this game was not televised. There is no video footage of this game, but there is audio from a radio broadcast that confirms he scored 100. There is also the famous picture of him holding up a piece of paper with the number 100 written on it.
Chamberlain had an incredible career. He had several records, including the record for most points per game in a season with 50.4 points per game in 1961-62. This record of most 40 (or more) point games is just another example of Chamberlain’s dominance.
2.) Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan is often considered the greatest player to play the game, and whether you agree or disagree, his accolades back it up. Jordan is a six-time NBA champion, a five-time MVP, and a 14-time NBA All-Star. The list goes on for Jordan, and it is no surprise that he is on this list.
Jordan had 173 games with 40 or more points, including a career-high 69 points against the Cleveland Cavaliers. This game took place on March 28, 1990, and the Bulls beat the Cavaliers 117-113. Jordan had several noteworthy performances in his career, and it has placed him in history.
3.) Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant was a special player. His “Mamba Mentality” gave him a passion and focus that few players possessed. In fact, it was reminiscent of Jordan’s mentality. Bryant had an illustrious career, and during that time, he had 122 games of 40 plus points.
Bryant had some incredible games, including an 81-point performance in 2006. This is the second-highest amount of points scored in a game behind Chamberlain’s 100. He was unstoppable in this game and to this day, this performance is still talked about. Bryant had an illustrious career, and even in his final game (where he scored 60), he put on a show.
4.) James Harden
James Harden is the only active player on the list, but with his knack for scoring placed him among NBA legends. Harden has 101 games of 40 plus points and from 2017 to 2020, he was the league’s best scorer.
Harden led the league in scoring for three consecutive seasons and in 2019, he had a career-high 61 points. And despite a few setbacks (such as injuries), Harden will likely add more 40-plus games to his resume.
5.) Elgin Baylor
Elgin Baylor is a legendary player that gets overlooked at times. Baylor was a phenomenal player that could put up big numbers with ease.
One interesting thing about Baylor’s career was his 1961-62 season. Baylor averaged a career-best 38.3 points. And he did it while he was stationed at Fort Lewis. Baylor was an Army Reservist, and was called to active duty during this time. He played with the Lakers when on weekend pass. This was an incredible feat and ended up being one of his best seasons.
Baylor had 88 games with 40 or more points in his career, including a 71-point game in 1960.
This list is full of legends, and as time goes on, we could see more players make the list.