A rare and special event

STEVE SIMMONS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:56 AM ET

Leo Rautins grabbed the program, the game notes and any other souvenir he could get his hands on before leaving the Staples Center late Sunday night.

"And I never keep that kind of stuff. I really don't care for it," the Raptors broadcaster, national team coach and former player said. "But this was different. You sensed you were part of something unbelievable. I wanted a keepsake."

This wasn't just different and unbelievable. This was once-in-a-lifetime event. This was a where-were-you sporting moment.

This was Kobe Bryant on Sunday night against the Raptors, both real and spectacular.

And who has been better in our sporting lives for one game, one night, one masterful performance?

Who?

Maybe Darryl Sittler 30 Februarys ago against Don Cherry's Boston Bruins.

Maybe Joe Montana -- you can pick which Super Bowl.

Maybe Reggie Jackson on one World Series night.

Maybe, if you're old enough to remember since there is no film of it, you were alive when Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points against the New York Knicks in Hershey, Pa., of all places, in 1962.

Maybe.

But you can't be certain you have seen anything like the 81 points Kobe Bryant threw at the Raptors on Sunday. Because maybe there never has been anything like it before.

"I've never been a big individual stats guy," Rautins said. "But I've never seen anything like this game. His team was playing like absolute crap and you could see he was mad at halftime. Then he just took the game over. Just like that.

"At the end, I wasn't thinking so much about the 81 points he scored, not diminishing that in any way. I was thinking he outscored the Raptors 55-41 in the second half all by himself. One guy outscored an entire team. Think about that.

"The Lakers were down 17 at the half and he just said 'No, it's not going to happen.' And it was like the Raptors were just caught in the show."

On an historic night 44 years ago, Chamberlain scored more points in an NBA game than Bryant scored Sunday night. It is the only time that has happened. Wilt The Stilt, a giant of a man who was physically unmatched at his time, had games of 100 points, 78, 73, 73, 72 and 60, all from the years 1960 to 1963.

In the first seven years of his career, he averaged 39.4 points per game. In the second half of his career, he averaged 20.7 points. The league in some ways had caught up to his dominance.

Kobe Bryant did something Sunday night that Michael Jordan can't claim, that Magic Johnson can't claim, that Larry Bird can't claim, that Jerry West can't claim, that the greatest passers and shooters who ever played can never be part of.

"As it began to unfold, I'm thinking 'We're watching history unfold,' " Rautins said. "You didn't really want to say anything (on air). You just wanted to let it happen.

"And all day long (yesterday) my phone has been ringing. People have been asking me about this, wanting to talk about it. You don't realize you've seen history until you step back and realize what it is you saw."

Sittler lived history himself, scoring a record 10 points in an NHL game in 1976. One night has turned into a lifetime of numerous story lines.

"You have no idea how many people have embraced this," Sittler said yesterday.

"There's this kids book out called The Leaf Sweater and they asked if they could use my name and likeness on it and they tell the story of the 10-point game.

"I had no idea the kind of impact the book would have. But here we are 30 years later and kids come up to me like I'm the tooth fairy, I'm the guy in the book, the 10-point guy."

After Sittler lost his wife Wendy to cancer, he was cleaning out the Buffalo home he had sold when he came upon Leafs tickets dated Feb. 7, 1976.

"In those days, they didn't rip the stubs off wives' tickets," Sittler said. "I've got those tickets now and they're in mint condition. It's special to have."

Rautins agrees.

"Next time we see the Lakers, I'm getting Kobe to sign the game program and then I'll put it away for my kids," he said.

"It's not often you get a chance to hold on, or even be close to history."

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AND ANOTHER THING

OFFICIALLY WRONG

Last week, an NFL official using instant replay for a second look completely messed up a call on an obvious Pittsburgh Steelers interception.

On Saturday, an NHL off-ice official completely messed up on a goal clearly kicked in by the Calgary Flames. Missing calls in the heat of action is understandable.

Missing them with the help of replay is inexcusable.

BRILLIANT BILLS?

Marv Levy, a Harvard graduate, is the new general manager of the Buffalo Bills.

Dick Jauron, a Yale graduate, was hired yesterday as the new head coach.

We're not certain what kind of GM Levy will be or how Jauron will turn out as coach, but he do know this much: If the Bills are ever moved from the AFC to the Ivy League, watch out.

YANKEE DOODLE DUDS

The United States Anti-Doping Agency is a joke. It will allow skeleton racer Zach Lund to participate in the Turin Olympics, even though he tested positive in November for using a steroid-masking agent.

Lund happens to be one of the favourites to win at the Games.

Americans continue to be more interested in victory than sincerity.


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