Vino is currently on pace to surpass Michael Jordan for third place on the all-time scoring list this season, and will soon only trail Malone (second) and Abdul-Jabbar (first). Stockton, for his part, is the all-time assists and steals leader. (Kobe Bryant will tie Isiah Thomas for 14th in all-time steals with three more steals.)
It is truly remarkable to witness some of the historical feats the Black Mamba is accomplishing and how he’s continually competing with not only the young superstars of the league, but some of the game’s greatest players as well.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, John Stockton, and Karl Malone each achieved a level of greatness early on, and managed to maintain an extremely high level of play throughout the remainder of their respective lengthy careers. Some of the numbers they were able to maintain are truly incredible (such as Stockton’s 21.0 19th-season PER compared with a career PER of 21.8).
Kobe Bryant is nearing the end of his career, but is playing at a level that only those three players have experienced — even surpassing them in certain areas.
Perhaps the most impressive factor in all of this is that he’s performing at such a high level after suffering a torn Achilles tendon. That particular injury ends numerous athletes’ careers, yet here is Kobe Bryant — driving to the basket, posting up, knocking down clutch shots in fourth quarters and overtimes — playing one of the most prolific individual 19th seasons in NBA history.
When asked following Sunday night’s game — a 129-122 overtime victory over the Toronto Raptors — how he’s been able to accomplish some of the things he has at 36 years of age and 19 seasons deep, Kobe responded to Lakers’ sideline reporter, Mike Trudell:
Asked Kobe on @TWCSportsNet what being the only guy to 30K points and 6K dimes means. Said it’s taken 24-7, around-the-clock work.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) December 1, 2014
The answer is no surprise, though, as we’ve all heard the numerous Kobe Bryant training and treatment stories — ranging from 3 A.M. workouts to extensive film study to post-game treatment in hotel rooms.
One particular ding on his box score line of 31 points, 12 assists, and 11 rebounds from Sunday night was the four missed free throws in 13 attempts — to which Kobe explained to Lakers Nation’s Serena Winters:
Kobe told me his poor free throw shooting is all legs: “I’m trying to figure out how to adjust.”
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) December 1, 2014
Always adjusting. Always working. Always finding a way to stay at the top of his game despite new physical limitations.
It may be a tough season for Lakers fans to watch, but one thing to marvel at is the living legend that is Kobe Bryant.
He’ll be gone one day, but for now he’s looking as agile and determined as ever.[divide]
NBA Record: Kobe Bryant First With 6,000 Assists And 30,000 Points