Kobe Surpasses Jordan

by Mike Trudell
Lakers Reporter

Man, has it been fun to watch the two greatest shooting guards of all time get buckets.

Lots and lots of buckets.

Enough buckets that Kobe Bryant, who surpassed Michael Jordan for third on the NBA’s all-time scoring list on Sunday in Minnesota, joined one of his hoops idols alongside Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone as the only players to ever score at least 32,292 points.

We’ve known for a while now that Kobe was in Jordan’s rare air. And in fact, we got a pretty clear glimpse during Bryant’s second year in the NBA, 1997-98. He was just a 19-year-old teenager going toe-to-toe with the G.O.A.T.

It was Dec. 19, 1997*, right in the middle of the Bulls’ second three-peat, and Chicago won the game easily, 104-83. Chicago rode Jordan’s 36 points. But on the other side of the court, Kobe had announced himself with 33 points, a performance showcasing Bryant’s already impressively versatile array of skills.
*This was actually Bryant’s third game against Jordan’s Bulls, but as a rookie, Bryant barely played, averaging 11.5 minutes in two games.

But Bryant still had much to learn, and wasn’t shy about asking for some help.

After the game, Chicago’s sideline reporter inquired if Jordan had imparted any wisdom on the budding star.

“(Bryant) asked me one question when we bent down at halfcourt,” said Jordan. “He wanted to know how when I turn around on my jump shot, how to lock the defense or how to feel the defense. I told him he should feel the defense with your legs. Once you feel the defense with your legs, you more or less have a feel for where the defense is and you can take advantage of that … I think that enhances his basketball skill, and someone did that for me.”

Pretty cool, right?

Kobe had no problem asking for trade secrets in the middle of the game to a living legend as a 19-year-old, and he got his answer. Fast forward 17 years, and Bryant and Jordan still talk very often to this day, as Bryant confirmed after L.A.’s Tuesday night win over Sacramento, and in an NBATV production. Watch Video

“The truth of the matter is, (Jordan has) helped me out a great deal,” said Bryant during the NBATV interview. “I’d reach out to him, he’d hit me right back. I’d ask him for advice, he’d give me advice straight from his heart. It was really helpful to me, it continues to be helpful to me today.”

Jordan isn’t the only player Kobe’s turned to for knowledge. He’s cited Magic Johnson, Clyde Drexler, John Stockton and Gary Payton amongst many hoops advisors.

But you need only watch Bryant play to see what player he’s most modeled his game after, and certainly, the one player who has the same maniacal competitive drive that even more so than their incredible natural talent has led to a collective 11 NBA rings.

“I think we’re both cursed with the obsession of trying to be the best that we can,” said Bryant. “It’s a blessing and a curse at the same time. We’re both very similar in that regard.”

“I really like Kobe Bryant’s competitive drive,” echoed Jordan on NBATV. “He’s cursed as much as I am. He can’t do the same things that he used to, and the success is not quite as simple as it used to be. He wants it so bad that he’s willing to go to the extreme.”

We enlisted the help of Jeanie Buss, Magic Johnson, Bill Bertka, Byron Scott and a few of Bryant’s current teammates to put his milestone in perspective:

"Congratulations to Kobe Bryant and we celebrate with him as he adds another page to NBA history. Kobe's legacy will endure the passing of time and for me personally will live forever in my heart."

Jeanie Buss,Lakers President and Governor

Kobe Bryant in the past 18 years has changed the game of basketball. His fresh new style of play, partnered with his old-school work ethic and unmatched will to win has helped him become one of the top five players the game has ever seen.

When I first met Kobe in his rookie year, I knew there was something different about him that you don’t see in every player. Five NBA Championships, 11 All-NBA First Team selections, 2 NBA Finals MVP awards, an NBA MVP award and 4 NBA All-Star MVPs later, he has put together an amazing and unimaginable career. Kobe has not only dominated on offense, but he has been a relentless defender throughout his career landing 9 NBA All Defensive First Team selections.

Now, Kobe can add 3rd leading scorer in NBA History to a long resume of accomplishments. Just like we’ve never seen a player like Michael Jordan, we will never see another player like Kobe Bryant.

So, congratulations to my friend, Lakers great, a future Hall of Famer, Kobe Bryant on reaching another career milestone and further cementing his place in basketball history!

Magic Johnson, Laker Legend

"For two players that are so often compared to each other it is a great achievement for Kobe to pass a player that he looked up to growing up and patterned his game after. Congratulations"

James Worthy, Laker Legend

"One of the highlights of my 46 years in the NBA has been watching Kobe develop into a true legend of the game--gifted athletically and with a fierce competitive spirit. He is the most complete offensively skilled player of the last 4 decades. At age 18 he set goals--goals accomplished."

Bill Bertka, Lakers Director of Scouting/Consultant

“I think it’s huge. If you look at the top 10 scorers in this history of this game, obviously we’ll end up with No. 1 and 3 from this organization. So it’s an unbelievable feat, and again, it shows (Bryant’s) longevity and his greatness for so many years. Both (Kobe and Jordan) are vicious on the basketball court. They’re both just so competitive. They don’t like losing. And they take that losing to heart. And they’re tough. They demand their teammates to play as hard as they play, and I know that very similar (between) those two guys for sure … From my standpoint and knowing Kobe like I know, he has a lot of respect for MJ. So he’s probably looked at him as the guy he wants to pass in a number of categories — and I think rings are one of them as well. So I think for (Bryant), it’ll be very significant. And again, it just puts him in the category when you talk about the greatest players in this league. It’s gonna put his name in that category no matter what.”

Byron Scott, Lakers Head Coach

“It’s a great accomplishment. For me, Kobe’s been one of my favorite players growing up and probably the best player to play this game. So I know it’s big for him. You can say what you want. I know he looks at it and idolized Jordan. To beat somebody you look up to, that’s a great feeling.”

Nick Young, Lakers Forward

“He’s had one hell of a career, man. Got a a lot of buckets; scored a lot. I know he’s downplaying it, because he has a big-picture mindset. Guys that you talk about with Kobe: MJ, Magic, guys like that. They think about championships. Whatever they accumulate along the way is along the way. So he won’t be very impressed by that, but we are as basketball fans — people that have watched him play and seen what he’s able to do throughout the course of his career. It’s pretty damn impressive.”

Carlos Boozer, Lakers Forward

KOBE’S SCORING SUPERLATIVES

Most Points in a Game
81 vs. Toronto (Jan. 22, 2006)

  • Lakers won, 122-104 after trailing by 14 at halftime.
  • Second-highest point total in NBA history (Wilt Chamberlain — 100).
  • Went 28-for-46 from the field (60.9 percent), including 7-for-13 from 3-points range (53.8), and 18-for-20 at the free throw line (90.0).
  • Also had six rebounds, two assists, three steals and three turnovers in 42 minutes.
  • Scored 55 points in the second half by going 18-for-28 from the field (64.3), 6-for-11 from behind the arc (54.5) and 13-for-14 at the foul line (92.9).
Shot Chart

Most Points Through Three Quarters
62 vs. Dallas (Dec. 20, 2005)

  • Lakers won, 112-90.
  • Sat the entire fourth quarter and played only 32:53.
  • Shot 18-for-31 from the field (58.1), including 4-for-10 from 3-point range (40.0), and 22-for-25 from the free throw line (88.0).
  • Scored 18 points in the paint and nine on second-chance opportunities.
  • Also had eight rebounds and three steals.
  • Scored 30 points in the third quarter alone, going 7-for-13 (53.8) from the field and 14-for-16 (87.5) from the free throw line.
Shot Chart

Highest Season Average
35.4 points per game in 2005-06

  • The first of back-to-back scoring titles (31.6 in 2006-07).
  • Averaged 37.0 points at home.
  • Shot 45.0 percent from the field and 34.7 percent from 3-point range. In the playoffs, those averages ballooned to 49.7 percent and 40.0 percent, respectively.
  • Also averaged 5.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists and 1.8 steals.
  • Named First Team All-NBA and All-Defense.
  • Lakers went 45-35, and lost in the first round of the playoffs in seven games to the Phoenix Suns.

Lowest Season Average

  • 7.6 points per game as an 18-year-old rookie in 1996-97.
  • Averaged 15.5 minutes and started six times in 71 games.
  • Shot 41.7 percent from the field, 37.5 percent from 3-point range and 81.9 percent from the free throw line.
  • Also averaged 1.9 rebounds, 1.3 assist and 1.6 turnovers.
  • Named Second-Team All-Rookie.
  • Best game was on April 8, 1997 in a win over Golden State, as he dropped 24 points on 9-for-11 shooting.

Best Streaks
Averaged 44.0 points per game in nine contests from Feb. 6-23, 2003. Scored 40+ in each game.

  • Shot 49.6 percent from the field, 47.1 percent from 3-point range and 83.2 percent from the free throw line during the streak.
  • Also averaged 5.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 2.6 steals and 3.6 turnovers.
  • Lakers went 7-2 during this stretch.
  • Best game came on Feb. 18 in a win over Houston (106-99), as he dropped 52 points, eight rebounds and seven rebounds. Also shot 19-for-38 from the field (50.0) and 11-for-11 at the foul line.
  • Also scored 51 at Denver on Feb. 12.
  • “Worst” game was the last of the streak (Feb. 23 vs. Seattle). Scored 41 points with five rebounds and three assists, while shooting 13-for-34 from the field (38.2), 1-for-6 from 3-point range and 14-for-16 at the free throw line.

Averaged 56.3 points with pairs of 50- and 60- point games in four contests from March 16-23, 2007.

  • Shot 54.3 percent from the field, 51.5 percent from 3-point range and 93.3 percent from the free throw line.
  • Also averaged 6.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.5 steals.
  • Lakers won all four games by seven points or fewer.
  • Best game was the first, as he went 23-for-39 from the field (59.0), 8-for-12 from deep (66.7) and 11-for-12 at the line (91.7) for 65 points against Portland.
Shot Chart

Career Shooting

  • Takes the most shots from 16 feet to the 3-point line (28.3 percent) followed by within three feet of the hoop (21.7).
  • Has drawn 3,253 shooting fouls, including 815 and-1s.
  • Has 772 career dunks.
  • Averaging 25.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.5 steals and 3.0 turnovers.
  • Shooting 45.2 percent from the field (8.9-for-19.6), 33.4 percent from 3-point range (1.3-for-4.0) and 83.7 percent at the free throw line (6.4-for-7.6).

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