Lakers' Kobe Bryant indifferent about nearing 25,000 career points
Perhaps the reaction will change once it becomes official. Perhaps it won't.
But at least after practice on Sunday, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant stood in front of the media expressing indifference that he is 30 points away from becoming the 15th NBA player to score 25,000 points, a feat he'll have a chance to accomplish in tonight's game against the Orlando Magic.
He treated the question with the same stoicism as he did discussing his back ("It's OK. I'm close. It's stiff"), the Magic ("I haven't had a chance to keep up on them too much.") and whether tonight's game against Orlando rekindles memories of last season's NBA Finals victory ("Nope. Not really. We haven't talked about it too much today."
The same indifference can be said about Mamba reaching the 25,000-point plateau.
"No," Bryant said when asked if the upcoming milestone means anything to him. "It's not something I think about at all."
Feel free to debate the merits of Mamba's comments. Lakers Coach Phil Jackson certainly had a different take, noting "I've seen him go for things. He's aware of these scorings in games, and it comes easy to him."
Additionally, both Mamba and Jackson had measured tones partly because the milestone's significance includes this: Bryant, at 31, will be the youngest player to reach the mark -- a misleading statistic given that Bryant went straight to the pros from Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Pa.
But here are some statistics that properly represent Bryant's standing in the scoring record books: Through 988 regular season games, he has logged 40-plus points in 103 of them, 50-plus points in 24 of them and captured the league's scoring titles in the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons. Bryant's 81 points against the Toronto Raptors Jan. 2, 2006, is the second-most points in a game behind Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point performance with the Philadelphia 76ers against the New York Knicks in Hershey, Pa. on March 2, 1962.
To play off the fish-in-a-barrel analogy Bryant mentioned in the video above, the same can't be said for his shooting this season. He's had a monthlong avulsion fracture to his right index finger, an injury he was able to play through with and thrive until he aggravated it nearly two weeks ago. In a four-game stretch afterward, Bryant had a 37-of-111 clip followed by back spasms that kept him out of the fourth quarter in last week's loss against the San Antonio Spurs. His latest performance -- a 30-point effort on 10-of-20 shooting in the Lakers' 126-86 victory over the Clippers -- suggests he may be turning a corner with those aforementioned injuries.
Lakers forward Pau Gasol only expects Bryant's scoring to continue. After all, he just recently eclipsed former New York Knicks center Patrick Ewing for 15th place on the NBA's all-time scoring list, and is only 222 points behind former Lakers great Jerry West, who Bryant listed by name along with Michael Jordan, Elgin Baylor and Bob Pettit as other players on the scoring list he holds in high esteem.
-- Mark Medina
Photo: Kobe Bryant is 30 points shy of reaching 25,000 career-point plateau. He is currently 15th on the NBA's all-time scoring list with 24,970 points. Credit: Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press