The Milestone Kobe Really Wants

Thirty-thousand points?

Sure. Why not? As long as he happens to be in the neighborhood. Kobe Bryant, 13 points away, will likely reach the milestone tonight in New Orleans … and keep going in the search for something more. Two wins in a row for the Lakers, for one thing.

Michael Jordan, for another.

Let’s be real. Bryant will say all the right things when he joins Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain on the 30K plateau, the exact level of appreciation depending on whether the Lakers win. But the whole 30,000-point thing is just fun with numbers. Retiring at 29,000 or 31,000 would not change the Bryant legacy by a fraction, and he knows it.

Retiring ahead of Jordan … that gets into legacy-changing. Jordan has been the focus point on Bryant’s horizon from the beginning, the only player to measure himself against. Jerry West is The Logo and a Laker icon who became one of the few able to reach young Kobe, Malone was briefly a contemporary and teammate who went all the way to No. 2 on the career scoring list. But Bryant throughout his life would measure himself only against Jordan.

Plus, Jordan is the only other guard in single digits of the scoring leaders, until Oscar Robertson at No. 10. They are surrounded by centers and power forwards. Jordan, then, would be the showdown.

That is the case with championships more than anything – current score: Jordan 6, Bryant 5, with time winding down on the clock – but it’s a good bet that passing MJ will mean more to Bryant than busting through 30,000. Not because it’s for third place and the medal stand on the all-time list, two spots better than his current standing. Because it’s Jordan.

At the moment:

  1. Abdul-Jabbar, 38,387 points.
  2. Malone, 36,928.
  3. Jordan, 32,292.
  4. Chamberlain, 31,419.
  5. Bryant, 29,987.

(The rest of the top 10: Shaquille O’Neal, Moses Malone, Elvin Hayes, Hakeem Olajuwon, Robertson.)

Bryant is 1,432 points behind Chamberlain and 2,305 away from catching Jordan, putting both within range, barring major injury. Malone, 6,941 in the distance, is a much harder sell.

At something close to the current rate of 28.5 points a game, Bryant will get to fourth place late in the season, depending on the number of contests missed to injury, and to third around this time in 2013-14, again depending on good health. And the current rate could hold. The Lakers will be playing faster under Mike D’Antoni than with Mike Brown as coach, and the some-day return of Steve Nash will make L.A. more efficient, even if Nash will also take some of the baskets. The increased pace and scoring opportunities could be enough to offset any reduction in minutes Bryant may have with D’Antoni.

Even dialing the numbers down, getting past Wilt and Jordan is still within sight. Put Bryant at 24 points a night and he gets to No. 4 in 60 games and to No. 3 in 96 games.

He can still get to Jordan, which is a lot more important than getting to 30,000. Let’s be real.


  1. Jacky says:

    Kobe in the past already said he doesnt want to be compared to mj, he wants to be his own player… You guys seriously got nothing to write that you have to bring up this topic? I expected this to be something amateurs publish…

  2. This guy? says:

    Who the hell is this spastic? Kobe has said time and again, dont compare him to anyone. Let Kobe be Kobe.

    I doubt Kobe cares where he ends, as long as he’s winning championships. Thats all thats on his mind.

  3. real1 says:

    this doesnt mean anything when you come into the league at 18 when MJ was in college till early twenties , also mj missed most of his second season , …. and retired twice for 18 months , 6 from 6 finals , 6 finaals mvps without piggybacking shaq , case closed STFU cant even win with 4 all stars on his team pffft

  4. lakermig says:

    At the end of the day i think he is smart enough to know that nothing he does will make him “better than jordan” in the jordan loyal’s eyes and in the kobe fans eyes such as my own he is already on par. If he does get to 3rd on the all time scoring list than its cause he started his career earlier and didnt retire for 2 years if he does win even another 2 rings (chances are like 2%) then it still doesn’t matter cause the first 2 “were thanks to shaq” and again who knows how many rings jordan would have had if he hadnt retired for 2 years. So there is no winning this showdown unfortunately for kobe.

  5. Malik says:

    By the time Kobe retires he should get past Chamberlain

  6. whosnext says:

    if mj didn’t stop in his first retirement and played 1 or 2 years more after his last title, he could have been the only one with 40,000 points! he was just a little away from 30,000 points in 1O full seasons (without his second injury year and the year when he came back at the end of the first retirement)!!!!

  7. Lakers-R-Us says:

    Go Kobe Bryant! Keep up the excellent play! Go Lakers.

  8. sad panda says:

    right because more is better every time…

    since iPhone 5 is better then iPhone 4 ( 5 > 4 ) then Robert Horry is better then both Jordan and Bryant because he has 7 rings and, as you can see from your list, Malone is better then Jordan because he has more points.

    ppl should snap out of this idiotic discussion already. different times, different rules, different teams, different players, different whatever. posts like this keep feeding the stupidity, nothing more

  9. See?This is why the lakes are a mess,its all about kobe,there´s NO TEAM EFFORT…NONE!Its all about mr arrogant bryant…you know kobe this,kobe that….,thats why kobe we´ll never win his 6th ring NEVER EVER!Stop dreaming kobe you´re done!MICHAEL JORDAN is and forever will be the greatest ever the real G.O.A.T.!

  10. kevin says:

    the greatest player when it is all set and done

  11. hollins says:

    typical case of YAY POINTS!
    what about mentioning that Kobe is BY FAR the least efficient scorer of the players listed?
    if Iverson played 200+ more games he would have been close to 30.000…

  12. Willy says:

    Great career but it really doesn’t matter as much as another RING!