Kobe Bryant overtakes Michael Jordan
Bryant, a five-time champion in his 19th professional season, came into the contest against the Minnesota Timberwolves needing nine points to surpass Michael Jordan’s career total of 32,292 points. He tied and passed the Hall of Famer with a pair of free throws that gave the Lakers a 38-32 lead with 5:24 remaining in the second quarter.
He finished with 26 points, including a three-pointer lofted over Andrew Wiggins with 1:02 to play as the Lakers triumphed 100-94. Kobe Bryant has joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone on the NBA’s career scoring podium with Abdul-Jabbar on 38,387 and Malone on 36,928) points.
The Timberwolves stopped the game, and owner Glen Taylor presented Bryant with the game ball, as a mark of the momentous achievement.
Bryant has spent 18 seasons measuring himself against, and being compared to, the man widely considered the best ever in the game. Jordan shot a higher field-goal percentage, won six titles to Bryant’s five and climbed past Wilt Chamberlain into third on the list in 1,039 games compared to Bryant’s 1,269. But in terms of competitiveness, tenacity and sheer will, Bryant is about as close as it gets to Jordan.
“I’m just honoured to be here and still be playing,” said Bryant, who was limited to just six games by injury last season. “Careers don’t usually last this long. I really, really appreciate the opportunity to be out there playing and performing and doing what I do.” First to congratulate Kobe was the legend he had just overtaken, Michael Jordon: “I congratulate Kobe on reaching this milestone,” Jordan, the owner of the Charlotte Hornets, said in a statement. “He’s obviously a great player, with a strong work ethic and has an equally strong passion for the game of basketball. I’ve enjoyed watching his game evolve over the years, and I look forward to seeing what he accomplishes next.” Former Lakers great Magic Johnson also offered congratulations via Twitter, saying Bryant was among the top five players in NBA history, to which Bryant replied: “That’s the most important thing to me, playing for the respect of the greats and feeling like I’m part of that culture, part of that brotherhood,”
Considering MJ retired at the age of 40, Kobe, 36, still has time to try and climb the all time top scoring list even if Abdul-Jabbar does look out of reach…just!