It took Bryant less than 17 seasons to achieve the milestone. He joins Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan as the only players to score at least 30,000 points. All four are in the Hall of Fame.
Whenever Bryant makes some sort of basketball history, he inevitably gets compared to Jordan. Bryant and Jordan are likely the two greatest shooting guards to ever play the game, and have won 11 of the last 22 titles.
Jordan is considered by many to be the best basketball player of all time. While Bryant will likely never surpass Jordan, he still has a chance to at least join the conversation when people talk about the handful of greatest players ever.
At 34 years old, the Los Angeles Lakers star may still be the top player at his position. Through 19 games in the 2012-2013 season, Bryant comfortably leads the league in scoring at 28 points per game. He’s shooting 49 percent from the field, and is taking just over 19 shots per game.
For his career, Jordan averaged 30.1 points per contest compared to Bryant’s 25.4. Jordan, however, was always his team’s first option. Bryant played alongside Shaquille O’Neal for the early part of his career, and often deferred to the most dominant big man in the league. Even at Scottie Pippen’s best, the Bulls always looked to get the ball to Jordan.
The guards are two of the greatest winners to ever play the game, and Bryant is still chasing Jordan’s six rings. With five of his own, there’s still a chance for Bryant to win more titles, before his playing days are over.
Despite the Lakers current struggles, they should be one of the favorites to win the championship for the next couple of years. Once Steve Nash gets healthy, L.A. should be a force to be reckoned with in the West. Dwight Howard is still the best center in the NBA, and if Pau Gasol can’t get back on track, Los Angeles can trade him for quality players to fit Mike D’Antoni’s system.
Bryant certainly experienced some low points in his career, nothing like Jordan ever faced, who made the postseason every year. Once O’Neal was traded, Bryant and L.A. struggled. From 2005-2007, Los Angeles averaged just 40 wins over three seasons, missing the playoffs once, and failing to get out of the first round.
After three years of a lot of scoring but very little winning, L.A. traded for Gasol, and the Lakers went back to being the most dominant team in the NBA.
Jordan will still end up having a better overall career, but Bryant will likely have been a great player for longer. An All-Star appearance this season will push Bryant past Jordan with his 15th selection. The Lakers guard will probably finish his career with more total points, and already has one more NBA Finals appearance.
Comparing any player to Jordan is often unfair, but Bryant’s numbers stand out in any debate. He may not be the greatest player of all time, but Bryant is certainly one of the best to ever put on an NBA uniform.