Kobe Bryant moved into fourth place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list in the Los Angeles Lakers’ game against the Sacramento Kings, passing Wilt Chamberlain.
Bryant’s pull-up jumper from the foul line with 7:55 remaining in the second quarter gave Bryant 31,421 points for his career, edging past Chamberlain’s 31,419 total.
Now, Bryant trails only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387), Karl Malone (36,928) and Michael Jordan (32,292).
Bryant had passed former teammate Shaquille O’Neal last season to occupy the No. 5 spot.
“I just want No. 6, man,” Bryant said, referring to his championship count, when asked where he wanted to finish on the all-time scoring list when he retires. “I’m not asking for too much, man. Just give me a sixth ring, damn it.”
While the Lakers are struggling just to make the playoffs this season, moving up the scoring list seems more feasible than another title at this point. Bryant is 34 and in his 17th season, but even as he’s aged, his scoring has hardly taken a dip (27.2 points per game average in 2012-13 after 27.9 a year ago).
“It depends on him and his body and mentally if he wants to keep going through this,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said after shootaround Saturday. “I would expect he would. He still hasn’t lost a whole lot and he’s 34 years old. Guys are now playing to 38-40. That’s on him. But his body and what he’s doing, he’s great.”
Bryant and Chamberlain already have been linked through their penchant for points in the past, as Bryant broke Chamberlain’s Philadelphia area high school scoring record by finishing with 2,883 points to Chamberlain’s 2,252. Bryant’s 81-point game on Jan. 22, 2006, also happens to be the second highest single-scoring game in league history, trailing only Chamberlain’s 100 scored on March 2, 1962.
“It’s a lot of points. It’s a lot of points,” Bryant said earlier this season. “I think it was just one of those nights for both of us where there was really no explanation for it. You just kind of get into one of those zones and one of those moments and things happen. … I was doing mine on jump shots, though. I didn’t have to bang with too many guys down low. I was just catching and shooting.”
While it took more than 40 years for another player to score 80 points or more after Chamberlain scored 100, Bryant said his and Chamberlain’s scoring totals are achievable.
“I believe so,” Bryant said when asked if any player would ever join him and Chamberlain with a matching single-game scoring outburst. “One day, it will happen.”