Add Kobe Bryant’s name to the short list of NBA greats that have reached 31,000 points in their careers.
The league’s second leading scorer led the Los Angeles Lakers to a 103-99 victory against the Dallas Mavericks Sunday afternoon, at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX. Bryant would not only out duel the Mavs’ Dirk Nowitzki, who finished with 30 points but he’d also outscore the other four starters on his own team combined. Kobe finished with 38 points on the night, 12 rebounds and three assists shy of a triple-double. Steve Nash would score 20 points for the first time this season for the Lakers and the struggling – yet, All-Star Dwight Howard would add 9 points and 13 rebounds. The Mavs and Lakers looked like they were two playoff contenders but are in fact battling to make the eighth seed.
The Black Mamba joins Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387), Karl Malone (36,928), Michael Jordan (32,292) and Wilt Chamberlain (31,419) as one of five players to surpass 31,000 points. Bryant became the youngest this afternoon, reaching the milestone at the age of 34 years, 185 days. His 17 seasons as a Laker, also makes him the only player to have reached the mark with one team. He finished just a few points shy of his third career scoring title last year.
There’s no question that Kobe is a Hall-of-Famer when he decides to hang up his jersey but his legacy seems to be on the line as the Lakers have struggled all season. Just two days ago, Mark Cuban suggested that the Lakers should consider dumping Bryant through the league’s amnesty clause. Bryant responded to Cuban as he has responded to critics in the past. With a win and an ageless performance. Kobe went as far as recently telling Sports Illustrated that the Lakers ‘will make the playoffs,’ assuring his team can turn around their losing record, in time to make the post season. He’s never shied away from bold statements. It’s not enough for Kobe to be mentioned with the greats. He’s less than 500 points away from Wilt and additional 1,000 away from MJ — he wants to be the greatest.