There was a time in the not too distant past when any conversation about the world's best pure scorers included Carmelo Anthony. On August 2, 2012 and on the world's biggest stage at the Summer Olympics, Anthony caught fire like never before, scoring 37 points in just 14 minutes. Not only did Anthony break Stephon Marbury's single-game USA olympic scoring record of 31 set back in 2004 against Spain, he also drained 10-12 from beyond the arc, both of which set USA olympic records. "Every time I touched the ball it's kinda hard to explain," Anthony said afterwards. "If you've never done it you would never know what I'm talking about it. I was in a zone."
Just how in the zone was Olympic Melo six years ago? Here's how that performance stacks up with the best heat check games from some of the NBA's best scorers.
DATE: August 2, 2012
37 points in 14 minutes
Points per minute: 2.64
However you choose to remember Anthony, there's no denying that at his best he could get buckets with the best of them. From anywhere on the court, from any angle and against almost anyone, Anthony's on the short list for best pure scorers of his generation. For that reason, this game alone - in which he shared the floor with the likes of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, James Harden and Russell Westbrook - could go down as the moment was at his very best. That rate of 2.64 points per minute is our number to beat.
DATE: March 2, 1962
100 points in 48 minutes
Points per minute: 2.08
Due to limitations in record keeping, we can't definitively say that Wilt Chamberlain never scored more points per minute than Anthony did against Nigeria in 2012. However, from what we know about just how much Chamberlain played - he once averaged 48.5 minutes per game which is probably the single most unbreakable record in all of sports - I'm dubious there exists accounts of Wilt dropping 37 in 14 minutes. Although far from official, http://nbastats.net/ is an amazing site that has game logs for Chamberlain (and others) going back to his college days at Kansas. With that as our guide, Wilt's famous 100-point game stands as the only time he ever topped 2 points per minute. Though it remains the most prolific scoring game in NBA history, on a per-minute basis, Wilt still falls far short of Anthony's outburst.
DATE: February 26, 1987
58 points in 37 minutes
Points per minute: 1.57
Athough this random game against the New Jersey Nets can't hold a candle to his career-high 69 points against Cleveland in 1990 or his 63-point outburst against Boston in the 1986 playoffs when it comes to remembering Jordan's most prolific moments as a scorer, this comes in as His Airness's highest scoring game on a per-minute basis despite being just the 7th-highest scoring game of his career. Thanks to the tireless efforts by our friends over at Basketball-Reference.com, we know that Jordan's highest scoring games in high school, in college and with Team USA were 42, 39 and 27, respectively. He also dropped 30 in the McDonald's All-American game which stood as a record for nearly two decades. We're also dubious he played sparingly in any of those games to "pass" Olympic Melo though so from where we stand, Jordan too falls short.
DATE: January 22, 2006
81 points in 42 minutes
Points per minute: 1.93
It remains the 2nd-highest scoring game in NBA history, the closest anyone's ever come to Wilt's 100-point night in Hershey, PA. Though Bryant once outscored the Mavericks 62-61 by himself through 3 quarters, it's this big bang against the Raptors that stands as the hottest he's ever been on an NBA floor. We checked his time with the national team as well and while he dropped 25 against Australia in 2008, he needed 26 minutes to do it. In terms of sheer efficiency in getting buckets, Kobe - like Wilt and Jordan - also falls short of Olympic Melo.
DATE: December 5, 2016
60 points in 29 minutes
Points per minute: 2.07
If you took a poll of all current NBA players and asked the question "who can get hotter than anyone", there's a decent chance Klay Thompson receives more votes than anyone. Sure, there are better scorers. And yes, his fellow Splash Brother is probably a better shooter. But I challenge anyone to come up with a current player capable of lighting up quicker than Thompson who owns the NBA record for most points in a single quarter with 37. Over the course of an entire game, Thompson once dropped 60 in just 29 minutes, the fewest minutes in NBA history in a 60-point game. For as hot as Thompson ran in those 29 minutes against the Pacers back in December 2016, he would have needed to score a whopping 77 points to match Anthony's per-minute rate.
We could go on for days. LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Stephen Curry... none of the game's current crop of scorers ever heated over the course of an entire game quite like Olympic Melo did on this date back in 2012.