Kobe Bryant Just 35 Points From Surpassing Wilt Chamberlain

whitlockIt’s almost fitting that, at 34-years-old, Kobe Bryant sits just 34 points beneath a fellow scoring ‘giant’. Whether it takes place on the second night of a back-t0-back vs. the Milwaukee Bucks or Saturday night vs. the Kings (in Sacramento), Bryant is set to overtake Wilt Chamberlain’s 31,419 point total for fourth on the All-Time NBA scoring list.

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Although, in my opinion, it is a fruitless act to draw direct comparisons between players from different eras given the vacillating variables (position, competition, circumstances, etc.), it is still fun to look at the numbers while honoring such milestones and accomplishments. Much like when Bryant scored 81 points vs. the Toronto Raptors (January 22, 2006), these two legends are once again in the same conversation. Unlike that night, where the discussion was centered around a single performance, this is a recognition of an overall career achievement.

*Take A Quick Look Back At 81

While there are some that might bring up the fact that Bryant has played in 1,231 to Chamberlain’s 1045 career games as a detraction, I actually feel it is merely a testament to Bryant’s longevity and maintained excellence. The reality is, Chamberlain put up video game-like numbers throughout his brilliant 14-year career. The most intriguing part of this pairing is the manner by which each man is judged by the media and society. Even though Chamberlain boasts some of the gaudiest career numbers you’ll ever see, he was often criticized for being a singular talent in a team-oriented game. His critics were almost merciless in their endless contrasting of Chamberlain to his contemporaries (mainly, Bill Russell). Consider this, Chamberlain’s 50.4 points and 25.7 rebounds (per game) led the 1961-1962 Philadelphia Warriors to a 49-31 record (2nd in Eastern Division), but Chamberlain still finished second in that year’s MVP voting.

Sound familiar?

In each of Bryant’s seasons where he led, frankly, grossly sub-par rosters to the postseason (2005-2006 and 2006-2007) while scoring 35.7 PPG and 31.6 (respectively), Bryant never finished higher than third in the MVP voting. I reference this, not to belabor a moot point, but simply to point out the similarities. Much like Chamberlain, whether fairly or unfairly, couldn’t avoid the comparisons to Russell, Bryant has never been able to avoid the inevitable juxtaposition with the only other guard in the top-5, Michael Jordan. Guess who’s next on the all-time scoring list after Chamberlain?

Since the topic is inevitable, Bryant is likely to finish the year somewhere near 650 points behind the aforementioned Jordan. Which means, someone from Lakers Nation will likely be preparing a similar article sometime in late-December.

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