Kobe Bryant leads the Lakers' all-time in scoring, but there's lots of scoring left for Mamba
Lakers fans will surely closely monitor Kobe Bryant's scoring records this season and later ones to come, an exercise that reached full steam Monday when he surpassed Lakers great Jerry West as the organization's all-time leading scorer.
You may not want all the "clutter" that comes along with it, such as a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies or the never-ending debates regarding Bryant's shot selection. But not only will his current clip of 25,208 points continually increase like Gmail's storage space and the national debt, his current 14th-place standing with 25,208 points on the NBA's all-time scoring list will only stay in flux for a very short time.
Here's what he's done this season alone. Mamba jumped above Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (24,176 points) on the Lakers' scoring list. He moved along to 14th place on the league's scoring place by surpassing Allen Iverson (24,344 points and counting), Patrick Ewing (24,815 points) and, most recently, West (25,192 points). And he became the youngest player to score 25,000 career points. Very soon, we can also add that he has passed Reggie Miller (25,279 points) and Alex English (25,613 points) as well.
But where will he ultimately stay on the all-time list? Bryant said earlier this season that he doesn't know if he'd be able to surpass Abdul-Jabbar's league-leading 38,387 points simply because the 13-year vet doesn't "know how long I'll play." West said Bryant's main advantages include his turning pro straight from high school and playing with few injuries, though he cited the latter part being an unpredictable factor that could help or hurt Bryant's cause. Nonetheless, West estimated Bryant would end with at least 30,000 career points.
If West's assessment proves correct, that means Bryant would join Abdul-Jabbar (38,387), Karl Malone (36,928), Michael Jordan (32,292) and Wilt Chamberlain (31,419) as the only players to score at least 30,000 points. Bryant will also be in close contention with Shaquille O'Neal, who is currently fifth on the list with 28,103 points. Something tells me Bryant won't be as nostalgic about surpassing O'Neal as he was about eclipsing West.
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant reacts after making a three-pointer in the second half against Memphis on Monday night. Credit: Mark Weber / Associated Press