I have a couple of digital pen pals who email me regularly. One of them is a man named Grady Rape, who asked me several weeks ago for the best NBA game played by a Wolf Pack alum. I told him it was an intriguing question and worthy of a full story at some point. Of course, I'd give him credit for the story idea, which he generously said he didn't need. But it was his idea, and a good one, so credit to Grady. I'm going to turn this into a series by profiling the best NBA, MLB and NFL game ever played by Nevada alums. Today, we look at the NBA.
In researching this question, I looked through the game logs of every Wolf Pack player who reached NBA, sorting through their "game scores." Game scores give a total perspective on a player's statistical performance in an entire game, looking at offensive and defensive performance. The higher the game score the better. The highest game score in NBA history is Michael Jordan's 64.6 (Jordan had 69 points, 18 rebounds, six assists and four steals in that one). That narrowly edges Kobe Bryant's 63.5 game score during his 81-point game against the Raptors.
More realistically, a game score of 20 or higher is an elite game. Nevada alums have combined for 51 games with a game score of 20 or more. Ramon Sessions has 26 such games. JaVale McGee has 16 such games, including the only game score of 20-plus for a Nevada alum in the playoffs. And the rest of the Wolf Pack alums have combined for nine game scores of 20 or more. That shows you how much more elevated the careers of Sessions and McGee are over every other Wolf Pack alum to reach the NBA. Nevada alums have played 3,297 games in the NBA, so it's been rare for a game score of 20-plus (just 1.55 percent of the games).
After sorting through all the games, it comes down to three games, two from Sessions and one from McGee. Here are those three games, ranked by lowest game to highest.
* Ramon Sessions (32.9 game score): In a 151-135 loss to the Chicago Bulls on April 14, 2008, Sessions, then a rookie on the Bucks, had 20 points, 24 assists, eight rebounds, one steal and one block. He made 7-of-12 shots and 6-of-7 free throws over 44 minutes. Sessions' 24 assists are tied for the 17th most in an NBA game in league history (Scott Skiles has the record with 30, and Skiles was coaching Sessions during this game). It was a great effort, but it's not No. 1 on our list.
* JaVale McGee (34.4 game score): In a 111-106 loss to the Nets while McGee played for the Lakers on March 22, 2019, the 7-foot center had 33 points, 20 rebounds, six blocks and a steal. He made 15-of-20 shots and 3-of-7 free throws in 34 minutes. McGee grabbed 12 offensive rebounds. This is one of the rare 30-point, 20-rebound, five-block games in NBA history, putting McGee in elite territory. But it's not quite good enough to top our list.
* Ramon Sessions (39.7 game score): In his second season in the league, Sessions had what I consider to be the best NBA game in Wolf Pack history. On Feb. 7, 2009, Sessions had 44 points, 12 assists and five rebounds. He made 13-of-18 field goals and 18-of-21 free throws in 47 minutes. His 44 points are the most by a Wolf Pack player in an NBA game despite his Milwaukee Bucks losing to the Detroit Pistons, 126-121, in overtime. Thirty-three of Sessions' points came in the second half/overtime as he battled against Allen Iverson, Richard Hamilton and Rasheed Wallace. This is not only the best game in Wolf Pack history, it's one of the top-100 games played in the 2000s, per game score value.
With Sessions' 44-point game against the Pistons in 2009 the best among Wolf Pack alums, here's a look at some other top games in the NBA by Nevada players.
* Edgar Jones (29.9 game score): In his second season in the league, Jones had 25 points, 13 rebounds, 10 blocks, two steals and one assist in a 100-96 loss to the Pacers when he played for the Pistons on Dec. 17, 1981. Jones made 10-of-15 shots and 5-of-7 free throws in 38 minutes. His 10 blocks are the second most by a Wolf Pack alum in an NBA game (McGee once had 12).
* David Wood (26.7 game score): He tallied 27 points, seven rebounds, two assists and one steal in 30 minutes of a 128-126 win over the Magic when he played for Houston on Dec. 20, 1990. Wood made 10-of-12 shots, including 3-of-5 threes, and all four of his free throws.
* Kirk Snyder (25.9 game score): Snyder's best game came April 12, 2008 in a 114-105 win over the Grizzlies when he played for Minnesota. He had 22 points, 11 rebounds, three steals, two assists and one block, making 9-of-11 shots and 4-of-7 free throws. Snyder's three game scores of 20-plus rank tied for third among Nevada alums with Jones.
* Caleb Martin (24 game score): Martin has hit the 20-plus game score mark once, doing so last season in a 143-138 loss to Atlanta while playing for Charlotte on March 9, 2020. Martin had 23 points, four assists, three steals and two blocks while making 8-of-10 shots, including 5-of-6 threes, over 36 minutes.
* Cody Martin (19.1 game score): Cody Martin's best game was a 13-point, eight-rebound, three-assist, three-steal effort in a 112-100 loss to Orlando on Feb. 3, 2020. He made all six of his shots attempts, including one three, over 28 minutes.
* Johnny High (20.5 game score): High hit the 20-game-score mark once, doing so in a 130-127 win over the Spurs while playing for the Suns on Nov. 12, 1980. In that game, High had 20 points, five rebounds, five assists and five steals. He made 9-of-15 shots and 2-of-4 free throws.
* Luke Babbitt (18.9 game score): Babbitt is the only other Wolf Pack player to flirt with a game score of 20. On Feb. 23, 2015, he helped New Orleans beat Toronto, 100-97. Babbitt had 18 points, eight rebounds, two assists and one steal in 23 minutes. He made 7-of-9 shots, including 4-of-5 from three.
Columnist Chris Murray provides insight on Northern Nevada sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @ByChrisMurray.