Heading into the Los Angeles Lakers' Tuesday night tilt with the Golden State Warriors, Kobe Bryant needed 25 points to pass Michael Jordan for the second-most points scored by a player for a single NBA franchise. He got 30. We now have a definitive answer; finally, the debate can end. Kobe Bryant is better than Michael Jordan.
(in terms of number of points scored with one particular team)
Check out Kobe's landmark moment and the rest of Tuesday's top sports stories, thanks to our friends at the Yahoo! Sports Minute.
Tuesday's milestone marked the second time in 31 days that Bryant has passed Jordan on an all-time scoring list. With a third-quarter dunk on Feb. 26, Kobe jumped MJ to become the top scorer in NBA All-Star Game history. This time around, he didn't even have to get his nose broken or suffer a concussion or anything, which is a pretty sweet deal, if you ask me.
After popping for 30 for the league-leading 22nd time this season — Kevin Durant has 19 games of 30 or more points, LeBron James and Kevin Love each have 18, Russell Westbrook has 13, Monta Ellis has 10 and nobody else is in double digits — Bryant now stands at 29,283 points in his illustrious 15-plus years with the Lakers. As the @NBAHistory Twitter account noted Wednesday morning, Jordan, now third on the list, scored 29,277 in 13 years with the Chicago Bulls. The all-time leader? Karl Malone, who poured in 36,374 points during his 18 years with the Utah Jazz.
Those leapfrogs aside, Bryant's still got some ground to cover to pass Jordan on the league's all-time scoring list — MJ finished up with 32,292 points, thanks to his late-career comeback with the Washington Wizards. (I, for one, can't wait to see Kobe head to the nation's capital at the end of his career, then insist that he's just doing it because he wants to, and not because it's what Jordan did.)
It seems like the mark set by "The Mailman" would be a tough number for Bryant to reach. He'd need to put up monster scoring campaigns in the final two years of his current contract just to get in hailing distance, then re-up with the Lakers for at least two or three more years at what you'd figure would be a substantially reduced price tag — somehow, I don't see the Busses and Mitch Kupchak opening up the vault too wide for a 36-year-old Kobe with nearly 60,000 NBA minutes on his legs, no matter how iconic or marketable he is. (And that's not an unreasonable projection, considering Bryant's already over 50,000 combined regular-season and playoff minutes for his career, he still works an iron-man schedule and Los Angeles figures to stay in the Western Conference's postseason picture for the duration of his deal.)
Plus, trips to Germany for platelet-rich plasma treatments can only go so far. At some point, the body has to get weak, no matter how willing the spirit is, right?
While Lakers fans count their blessings that Kobe's continued to hold up throughout his marvelous career in Hollywood, let's briefly note just how willing that spirit is. We got a reminder late in L.A.'s 104-101 win over the short-handed Warriors, when Pau Gasol was fouled and sent to the line with 22.4 seconds left and the Lakers clinging to a two-point lead.
Metta World Peace passed the ball to Gasol because Bryant was blanketed on the inbounds play, but despite the ball-denying double, Kobe was displeased that he did not receive the rock, and YouTube user ImadoggyDogg caught him letting the 7-foot Spaniard know about it in no uncertain terms. (I'd embed, but there's some cussin'.) Never change, Kobe.
Bryant got his 30 on 9-of-24 shooting (natch), adding five rebounds and five assists to pace the Lakers. Gasol (19 points, 17 rebounds) and Matt Barnes (18 points, 10 rebounds) posted double-doubles in the win, while star center Andrew Bynum did this, and then this happened, which all seems pretty weird.
Also, Kobe thinks everyone is acting like the Lakers are in eighth place despite the fact that, as the great Zach Lowe points out, the national media has largely sung hosannas about the squad since the Ramon Sessions move, save for questioning why Lakers coach Mike Brown benched Bryant in the fourth quarter the other night, which seems like a pretty fair question.
So, basically, everything is crazy in Los Angeles, which means everything is normal in Los Angeles. Typical Tuesday night, really.