There’s irony that it came on one of the worst shooting nights of his career, but Kobe Bryant set a historic NBA scoring mark on Sunday night.
With a fourth-quarter free throw Kobe became the youngest player in NBA history to reach 28,oo0 points. Kobe is 33 years, 131 days.
Only five other players in NBA history have scored that many points, period. Kobe needed 1,109 games to get there, but four players who reached this milestone in fewer games (Wilt Chamberlain in just 825 games, Michael Jordan in 886, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1,008 and Karl Malone in 1,070. (The other member of the 28,000 point club is Shaquille O’Neal.
If you’re thinking can Kobe catch Kareem for the all time lead… not really. Kobe is 10,375 points behind the Captain — it would mean Kobe scoring at the rate he has for the past few years for another five years to do it. That’s asking a lot. More likely, Kobe catches MJ (because you know that Kobe wants to).
Kobe was just 6-of-28 shooting in a loss to the Nuggets Sunday, but even that illustrated how Kobe got to this milestone. Kobe’s greatest asset is a confidence and unmatched belief in himself, which allows him to attack constantly and put up gaudy scoring numbers. It also means on an off night he firmly believes that the next shot will fall and he will shoot himself out of this slump. Like a tragic character in a Greek tragedy, Kobe’s greatest strength can be his greatest weakness.
But when he retires, he will rightfully be remembered as one of the game’s greatest scorers.