Kobe passes Michael on list of top scoring hoopsters Kobe Bryant, in 2014 and Michael Jordan, in 1995, at left (Reuters / AP photo)
Kobe passes Michael on list of top scoring hoopsters
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Kobe Bryant has reached rarefied air.

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, the icon with whom he is often compared. He got the mark with two free throws with 5:24 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. I really appreciate the opportunity to still be out there playing and performing and doing what I do."

Now, only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone have scored more points than Bryant.

"I congratulate Kobe on reaching this milestone," Jordan, who now is 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. Bryant often mimicked Jordan from his earliest days in the league. Like Jordan, Bryant pumped his fist after big shots. He adopted the fade-away jumper as his career has progressed, and even sprinkled in a little tongue-wagging on his drives to the bucket.

"He knows how much I've learned from him," Bryant said. "From the other legends, but him in particular."

The Timberwolves stopped the game, and the crowd gave Bryant a standing ovation as Wolves owner Glen Taylor presented him with the game ball.

With a big smile on his face, 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, but has now caught Jordan in the game's defining individual statistic.

Bryant had 32,284 points when he took the floor against a Timberwolves team that includes 19-year-old rookies Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine, two players who were barely born when Bryant made his NBA debut in 1996.

He missed four of his first five field goals. Then he knocked down a 3-pointer midway through the second quarter to pull within two points. He nearly passed Jordan with one of his patented fall-away jumpers from the baseline, but it rimmed out and with 5:24 to play and 24 seconds on the shot clock, No. 24 stepped to the line and calmly swished two free throws to do it. He finished the night with 26 points and 32,310 for his career.

It took Bryant 1,269 games to reach the NBA's career scoring podium. Jordan amassed his 32,292 points in 1,039 regular-season games.

"Just like we've never seen another player like Michael Jordan, we will never see another player like Kobe Bryant!" Lakers Hall of Famer Magic Johnson tweeted.

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.

"I think it puts him in the conversation of who is the greatest," Lakers coach Byron Scott said of Bryant. "I think his name's going to be mentioned when it's all said and done. His goal is still to win another championship or two. So we'll have to wait until the book is completed."

Critical thinking challenge: Why can Kobe Bryant still move higher on the career scoring list, but Michael Jordan cannot?

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COMMENTS (246)
  • KeanuK-Jac
    12/19/2014 - 05:55 p.m.

    Kobe Bryant can move higher on the career scoring list, but MJ can not because Kobe is still playing and he can keep moving up until he is retired and MJ can not because he retired to play baseball just like his dad did.

  • NateH1-Jac
    12/19/2014 - 05:56 p.m.

    You are wright Jordan is an all around Basketball player than Kobe besides Kobe should have been gone a while ago Kobe signed some big contract for 2,000,000,000 million dollars

  • KeanuK-Jac
    12/19/2014 - 06:00 p.m.

    Kobe Bryant can move higher on the career scoring list, but MJ can not because Kobe is still playing and he can keep moving up until he is retired and MJ can not because he retired to play baseball just like his dad did.

  • KageM-Jac
    12/19/2014 - 06:06 p.m.

    I cant believe this happened! I bet this only happened because Kobe is the biggest ball hog in the whole entire NBA. But also Kobe is a great player so I congratulate Kobe for the big achievement.

  • LaurenT-1
    12/19/2014 - 07:52 p.m.

    Kobe Bryant passed Michael Jordan for 3rd plaice on the all time scorers list. More than 6,000 points away from the first place spot, he won't be there any time soon, but it does put him in a decision of who's the best.
    I think that Bryant is one of the best athletes of all time and he is easily one of the best to play the game.

  • RMatthew-Cas
    12/20/2014 - 11:04 p.m.

    Kobe Bryant can still move higher on the career scoring list because he isn't retired yet. Michael Jordan can't move higher on the career scoring list because Michael is retired.

  • cm2001KING
    12/22/2014 - 08:41 a.m.

    Kobe got more points because Michael Jordan is retired and kobe is still in the game playing because he hasn't retired yet so that is why he has more points than micaehl jordan

  • SD2000green
    12/22/2014 - 08:41 a.m.

    Kobe Bryant can keep moving higher because he hasn't retired yet and he still has a chance to be the best hoopster. Michael Jordan is no longer playing in the NBA, so his ranking on the leaderboards will remain the same unless it's debunked by another player.

  • MEdgar-Sti
    12/22/2014 - 09:46 a.m.

    i think its good that Kobe moves higher in life and in the game.i think Kobe is almost the same as Jordan hes got his own brand that's trending. but no where near as Jordan brand. but i think Jordan is still better in basketball. I would like to see how far Kobe goes on

  • MEdgar-Sti
    12/22/2014 - 09:48 a.m.

    i think its good that Kobe moves higher in life and in the game.i think Kobe is almost the same as Jordan hes got his own brand that's trending. but no where near as Jordan brand. but i think Jordan is still better in basketball. I would like to see how far Kobe goes on

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