Before Kobe Bryant has a chance to eclipse His Airness, Michael Jordan in rings or on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, he has another ex-high-flying guard to shoot down a peg.
In Bryant’s most recent outing, the Lakers guard put up 40 points in a losing effort. As a result, Bryant begins the weekend against the Denver Nuggets on Friday night just 100 points shy of 30,000 points and is 127 shy of surpassing 70’s and 80’s icon Dr. J on the all-time scoring list.
Surpassing Erving is an accomplishment that likely won’t garner much media attention because the NBA doesn’t recognize ABA statistics besides absorbing a number of its teams. That’s unfortunate for Bryant but more so for Erving, whose accomplishments have been diminished by the ABA’s dissolution.
Bryant has tallied over 11,000 more career NBA points than Erving on the NBA’s career scoring list but those numbers don’t include the 11,662 career points Dr. J tallied as the ABA’s fifth all-time leading scorer.
Erving retired at 37 after 16 seasons in 1987. The 34-year – old Bryant is in his 17th season but has played 67 fewer regular season games.
Besides bringing funk to the dunk, Erving was named an All-Star in all 16 of his seasons, earned three- ABA MVP awards, an NBA MVP, two-time ABA champion and then added an NBA title to his collection with the ’81 76ers.
At his current pace, Bryant will reach 30,000 against either Houston or New Orleans and shove from the top five against the Thunder.
Passing Erving should strike close to home for Bryant, who hails from the Philly area. Interestingly enough, Bryant’s father played alongside Erving with the 76ers for three seasons in the late 70’s.
Last year, Bryant also joined Erving in the exclusive 25,000/5,000, 5000 club alongside Erving and six other Pro Basketball Hall of Famers.
One statistic Bryant will never catch Erving in is the rebounding department where Erving in his prime was among the ABA’s best and where he averaged double-digit rebounds a season five times. That is a feat neither Jordan, Bryant even LeBron James even accomplished. To put those numbers in perspective, over the course of his career, Erving chased down 10,000 career rebounds. Bryant has accumulated just over 6,200.
After Erving, next on Bryant’s trek up the scoring ladder takes him to Wilt Chamberlain, who has won titles in both the City of Brotherly Love and Tinseltown.