Kobe Bryant became just the fourth player in NBA history to amass more than 32,000 career points, with the shot that put him past the milestone coming late in Tuesday’s road victory over the Hawks.
Bryant used his textbook footwork to spin and fade away from his defender before rising up, and drew contact which resulted in a foul being called as the ball splashed home.
He joins a group that includes only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone and Michael Jordan, the latter of which Bryant will pass once he scores 292 more points.
There have been rumors that Bryant’s early-season gunning was a result of him chasing MJ on that list, and wanting to make sure he passes him while healthy enough to do so. But as Kobe wisely noted after Tuesday night’s victory, his detractors will always find something to criticize.
Asked if he has heard chatter that he’s gunning for Jordan’s spot on the list, Bryant said: “There’s always something. Especially with me. First it’s, I can’t come back and play. Now I’m playing and now it’s, well, I’m not playing well enough. Well, you just said that I’d be in a wheelchair and I wouldn’t be able to play at all. So there’s always something. I don’t even waste my time trying to shut people up.”
Bryant currently leads the league in scoring with an average of 27.4 points per game this season.