Kobe passes Michael on list of top scoring hoopsters
Kobe Bryant has reached a milestone.
The Los Angeles Lakers basketball star passed Michael Jordan for third on the NBA's career scoring list Sunday night. It happened in a 100-94 Laker victory against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Bryant entered the game needing nine points to pass Jordan. He is the player with whom Kobe is often compared. He got the mark with two free throws with 5:24 left to play in the second quarter.
"I'm just honored to be here, man, to still be playing," Bryant said. "I appreciate being able to play this long. Careers normally don't last this long."
Now, only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone have scored more points than Bryant.
"I congratulate Kobe on reaching this milestone," Jordan, who is now the owner of the Charlotte Hornets, said in a statement. "I look forward to seeing what he accomplishes next."
Bryant didn't break a record Sunday night. Abdul-Jabbar is still more than 6,000 points ahead of him and in no danger of being caught. But moving past Jordan was cause for celebration.
The two players have been linked for years.
"He knows how much I've learned from him," Bryant said. "From the other legends, but him in particular."
The Timberwolves stopped the game. The crowd gave Bryant a standing ovation as Wolves owner Glen Taylor presented him with the game ball.
Bryant received hugs from teammates and the Timberwolves. He waved to the crowd.
Bryant has been chasing Jordan for almost two decades now. He's still one league championship short of the six Jordan won with the Bulls.
Bryant had 32,284 points when he took the floor against the Timberwolves. He missed four of his first five field goals. Then he knocked down a 3-pointer to pull within two points. He nearly passed Jordan with one of his patented fall-away jumpers from the baseline. But it rimmed out. Then, with 5:24 to play No. 24 stepped to the line. He swished two free throws to do it. He finished the night with 26 points and 32,310 for his career.
Moving any further up the list will be a challenge. Malone (36,928) is more than 4,500 points ahead of the 36-year-old Bryant for second place. Abdul-Jabbar (38,387) is on top by a healthy margin.
Who is the greatest player ever?
"I think it puts him in the conversation of who is the greatest," Lakers coach Byron Scott said of Kobe.
Critical thinking challenge: Why can Kobe Bryant still move higher on the career scoring list, but Michael Jordan cannot?