Video game stats in real life might be inspiring for the new year

Published 5:30 pm Friday, January 6, 2023

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I’m admittedly not very good at video games (except for, on rare occasions, Mario Kart). But I have watched plenty of friends and family play them over the years.

For example, I vaguely remember an old basketball video game that someone in my family – my brother and/or one of my cousins maybe – used to play. You could create your own character for the game, and they often delighted in making their basketball player as tall as possible and have the best aim for shooting and passing the ball. They’d max out all the stats to make the guy unbeatable on the basketball court.

For me, it was entertaining to watch the silliness play out on the virtual court. A towering giant of pixelated person just demolishing everyone else in the game.

I was reminded of this old memory this week as I read an Associated Press story about Donovan Mitchell’s amazing 71-point game which led his Cleveland Cavaliers team to victory. The number of points he scored is just staggering to me, and even the author of the article made the comparison to “video game numbers” for NBA stats these days.

The Cavaliers were up against the Chicago Bulls on January 2, and it was Mitchell’s outstanding performance that helped them secure the 145-134 overtime win. He scored 55 of his 71 points after halftime, since he got off to a bit of a rocky start in the first quarter of the game.

Perhaps it took him a little bit of time to get warmed up, but when he started cooking, he was really cooking!

I remember enjoying watching Mitchell play during his college years at Louisville, but I hadn’t been keeping up with his professional career. Apparently, I’ve been missing out.

As impressive as Mitchell’s accomplishment is, he’s not the first player to have scored such a massive number of points during a single NBA game. According to the AP article, other players who have tied or surpassed 71 points in a game include Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant, David Thompson (who played college ball at NC State, if I may add), David Robinson, and Elgin Baylor.

The last time anyone scored 71 or more points in an NBA game was Kobe Bryant in 2006. His total for that game was actually a whopping 81 points.

As I continued reading the article, I learned that Mitchell isn’t the only one having a stellar season right now. Several players have been scoring upwards of 40 or 50 points per game, and that’s just in the past two weeks. According to the stats, there have been 87 games so far this season where at least one player has scored 40 or more points. Those who have accomplished that feat multiple times include Luka Doncic (from the Dallas Mavericks), Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76’ers), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks), and Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics).

Doncic in particular has scored more than 40 points in a game no less than eight times already this season. He just had a 60-point game on December 27! (That was the NBA’s single game point record for this season until Mitchell demolished it in the following week.)

I kinda feel exhausted just reading all that.

Perhaps it’s worth noting here that I believe my highest scoring game in my brief two-year career of middle school basketball was only two or three points. (It’s been too many years now that I can’t remember if I actually made any free-throws to go with my one lone successful two-point shot.) As much as I love basketball, I was definitely better suited to watch from the sidelines than to run up and down the court.

Anyway, I just think it’s kind of cool to see how athletes keep getting better and better as the years go on, breaking records and surpassing their own limits. That’s one of the reasons sports can be so compelling to watch: competition pushes people to challenge their own selves more, and some of those people even manage to break through to accomplish something impressive.

Or perhaps, in professional basketball’s case, no one simply bothers with defense anymore.

(I’m joking. Mostly.)

The NBA season doesn’t wrap up until the summer, so there is still plenty of time left to see more incredible feats of athleticism in the future. But isn’t it crazy that Mitchell may have hit his high point of 2023 just two days after it began! I certainly hope his New Year’s resolution wasn’t to “score 71 points in a game” because now, what is he going to do for the rest of the year?

Maybe the rest of us might feel inspired to strive towards accomplishing our own New Year’s resolutions now. Maybe we can, like Donovan Mitchell, go above and beyond expectations.

Or maybe, we can just focus on smaller goals. Adding something healthier to our diets. Exercising a little more. Picking up a new hobby we’ve been thinking about for a while. Something a bit more easily attainable than “score a ridiculous number of points during a professional sporting event.”

We’re already a few days into 2023 and many of us may have already forgotten or abandoned our resolutions. Don’t worry though. We can always try to start again at the beginning of the upcoming lunar new year (on January 22)… or maybe the beginning of the new fiscal year (on July 1)…

Okay, on second thought, perhaps it would be easiest just go back to watching silly video games instead.

Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer for Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at or 252-332-7206.