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Kobe Bryant can realistically surpass Michael Jordan on scoring list

November 29, 2011 |  4:00 pm

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant serves as the perfect symbol for the argument by the players' union that they drive the NBA's popularity. Yet, the Lakers star reportedly urged his colleagues to accept a 50-50 split in basketball-related income.

Bryant definitely loves making money, and is paid lots of it, ranging from his remaining three years, $83.5 million with the Lakers and his Nike endorsement deals. But he also recognizes he has limited years left in winning as many championships as possible. Whether Bryant wants to admit it, time also appears closing in on his chance to climb up the NBA's all-time scoring list. 

He is sixth on the list with 27,868 points, trailing Shaquille O'Neal (28,596), Wilt Chamberlain (31,419), Michael Jordan (32,292), Karl Malone (36,928) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387). So it's only realistic he can pass O'Neal this season and possibly throw a parting shot at his former nemesis and teammate. Even with a compressed 66-game schedule, however, Bryant will likely surpass Chamberlain and Jordan before his contract ends.

It remains unclear to what degree Bryant's prolonged off-season and innovative procedure on his right knee will do to his game. But just for the sake of playing it safe, let's assume Bryant can maintain the 25.3 points per game average he posted last season through the rest of his career. Through 230 regular-season games, Bryant would score 5,819 points in 230 regular-season games, putting him still in third place ahead of Jordan with 33,282 points. It's never fair to compare Bryant and Jordan since they're players of their own time, but that milestone and Bryant's quest for a sixth championship ring will inevitably spark that debate. 

But it's unlikely given Bryant's nature that he'll be satisfied with only passing Jordan. Surpassing Karl Malone and Abdul-Jabbar, however, remain unrealistic should Bryant play for only three more seasons. He would have to average 39.39 points through 230 regular-season games to eclipse Malone and 45.73 points in that span to surpass Abdul-Jabbar. 

Of course, this all presumes Bryant won't sit out a game and won't suffer any more serious injuries. Something tells me Bryant has prepared for this challenge. 


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--Mark Medina

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Photo: Kobe Bryant and the Lakers will be one of the first teams to hear from fans when they are part of a season-opening tripleheader on Christmas Day. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times