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John Schuhmann

Numbers Game

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Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

O'Neal, Bryant steadily climbing up all-time scoring lists

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com
Posted Mar 19 2009 2:36PM

We've gone on and on about the relationship between Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant ... their eight seasons together in L.A., their three championships, the ugly ending, the diss records, the MLK Day hug and, finally, this year's All-Star Game (where they shared the MVP award).

One other thing that Shaq and Kobe share is a place in the record book. Aside from Allen Iverson, O'Neal and Bryant are the only active players in the top 25 scorers in NBA history. And both of them have a chance to keep moving up the list before this season is over.

Shaq is sixth all-time with 27,372 points and is about to add one more achievement to his resume. Already this season he's passed Hall of Famers John Havlicek, Dominique Wilkins, Oscar Robertson, Hakeem Olajuwon and Elvin Hayes. And with 38 more points, he'll pass Moses Malone to enter the top five.

Averaging 18.1 points per game this season, Shaq will likely need two or three games to pass Malone. The Suns host the Sixers on Wednesday, the Wizards on Saturday and the Nuggets on Monday.

NBA's All-Time Leading Scorers
Rank Player Games PPG Points
1 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 1,560 24.6 38,387
2 Karl Malone 1,476 25.0 36,928
3 Michael Jordan 1,072 30.1 32,292
4 Wilt Chamberlain 1,045 30.1 31,419
5 Moses Malone 1,329 20.6 27,409
6 Shaquille O'Neal 1,102 24.8 27,372
7 Elvin Hayes 1,303 21.0 27,313
8 Hakeem Olajuwon 1,238 21.8 26,946
9 Oscar Robertson 1,040 25.7 26,710
10 Dominique Wilkins 1,074 24.8 26,668

Kobe currently ranks 18th all-time with 23,479 points. He has already passed Larry Bird, Gary Payton, Clyde Drexler, Elgin Baylor, Adrian Dantley and Robert Parish this season. With 279 more points (which should take 10 or 11 more games), he'll pass Charles Barkley for 17th.

Iverson, who is 16th all-time, is 203 points ahead of Barkley. He's passed Baylor, Dantley, Parish and Barkley this season, and that's where he'll stop for now as he's roughly 850 points from the 15th-ranked scorer, Patrick Ewing. Depending on his role with whatever team he's playing for next season, he could move up a couple more spots.

Active All-Time Leading Scorers
Rank Player Games PPG Points
1 Shaquille O'Neal 1,102 24.8 27,372
2 Allen Iverson 883 27.1 23,960
3 Kobe Bryant 933 25.2 23,479
4 Kevin Garnett 1,051 20.2 21,241
5 Ray Allen 931 20.9 19,479

Here are some more scoring-related notes as we prepare for Shaq to join Kareem, the Mailman, MJ and Wilt in the top five.

• Kevin Garnett ranks 26th all-time, 345 points behind Hal Greer. He'll move into the top 25 next season.

• O'Neal, Iverson and Bryant are at the top of the active all-time scoring list, but who is at the bottom? Houston's Joey Dorsey and Toronto's Nathan Jawai, who each have scored two points, the fewest of any player currently on an NBA roster who has played in a game.

• Shaq is 11,015 points shy of all-time leader Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. If he were to keep up this season's scoring pace of 18.1 ppg and play every game of every season, he'd pass Abdul-Jabbar in December of 2016, when he's 44 years old. Just to pass Wilt Chamberlain for fourth place all-time, Shaq would need to average roughly 18.0 ppg and play nearly three more full seasons.

• Kobe is 14,908 points behind Kareem. If he were to keep up this season's scoring pace of 27.8 ppg, he would need 537 games to become the NBA's all-time leading scorer. If he played every game of every season, that would happen in December of 2015, when he's 37.

• Of the 25 leading scorers, 18 are eligible for the Basketball Hall of Fame. And all 18 have been inducted. Among those top-scorers not in the Hall, Michael Jordan (third) is likely to be inducted later this year, while Karl Malone (second), Reggie Miller (13th) and Gary Payton (23rd) are not yet eligible. Mitch Richmond (31st with 20,497 points) is the HOF-eligible player with the most points who is not in the Hall.

• Shaq has been held scoreless just once in his 1,102 career games. He didn't attempt a field goal or a free throw in two minutes of action (he injured his knee early in the first quarter) on Feb. 22, 2005 in Chicago. Iverson never has been held scoreless, while Bryant has been held scoreless 14 times in his career, 11 in his rookie season.

Career Highs
O'Neal: 61 -- March 6, 2000 -- 123-103 win vs. L.A. Clippers
Iverson: 60 -- Feb. 12, 2005 -- 112-99 win vs. Orlando
Bryant: 81 -- Jan. 22, 2006 -- 122-104 win vs. Toronto

• Only once did Kobe and Shaq combine for more than the 81 points Kobe scored by himself against the Raptors in 2006. In the game Shaq scored a career-high 61, Kobe scored 22 (a total of 83 points combined). They combined for 81 on March 28, 2003 in a win over the Wizards when Kobe scored 55 and Shaq scored 26.

• Kobe and Shaq each scored 30-plus points in the same game 33 times in the eight seasons they played together.

Individual Scoring Games
Points O'Neal Iverson Bryant
60-plus 1 1 5
50-plus 3 11 24
40-plus 49 79 96
30-plus 313 345 304
20-plus 815 694 646
10-plus 1,062 861 862
Less than 10 40 22 71

• Of the 96 times Kobe has scored 40-plus in a game, 30 came in the eight years Shaq was his teammate, and Shaq played in only 20 of those games. Kobe has gone for 40-plus 66 times in the five seasons since Shaq left L.A.

Postseason Scoring
All-Time Leaders
Rank Player Points
1 Michael Jordan 5,987
2 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 5,762
3 Shaquille O'Neal 5,121
4 Karl Malone 4,761
5 Jerry West 4,457
Active Leaders
1 Shaquille O'Neal 5,121
2 Kobe Bryant 3,686
3 Tim Duncan 3,625
4 Richard Hamilton 2,414
5 Rasheed Wallace 2,211

Postseason Career Highs:
O'Neal:
46 (Twice)
* April 25, 1997: First Round, Game 1 in win over Portland
* April 23, 2000: First Round, Game 1 in win over Sacramento

Iverson: 55
* April 20, 2003: First Round, Game 1 in win over New Orleans

Bryant: 50
May 4, 2006: First Round, Game 6 in overtime loss to Phoenix

• Iverson and O'Neal both had their NBA Finals career high on the same night. Iverson scored 48 and Shaq had 44 in Game 1 of the 2001 Finals, which Philly won in overtime. Bryant's Finals career high (36) came in Game 3 of the 2002 Finals in New Jersey.

• Eight of the top 25 all-time scorers have played for the Lakers: Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Chamberlain, O'Neal, Jerry West, Bryant, Baylor and Payton. West is the all-time leading scorer in Lakers history with 25,192 points. Bryant ranks third in team history and is on pace to pass both Abdul-Jabbar (24,176 points with the Lakers) and West next season.

• LeBron James currently ranks 28th on the active all-time scoring list with 12,610 career points. At his pace, he's got about four more seasons before he enters the top 25 (active or retired).

• Had Jordan played full seasons in 1993-94 and 1994-95 (instead of just 17 games at the end of '94-95) and averaged the 32.6 ppg he put up in 1992-93, he'd have an additional 4,674 points. That would put him 38 points ahead of Karl Malone for second all-time.

All stats are through Tuesday, March 17, 2009.

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