Certainly, information has been passed between greats from the generations of the 1960s (Bill Russell, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, Oscar Robertson) to the 1970s (Julius Erving, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Walt Frazier) to the 1980s (Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Moses Malone) to the 1990s (John Stockton, Karl Malone, Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Gary Payton) to the 2000s and now the present.
The succession has increased the level of talent and the number of elite players in the league, as each generation has learned from the prior one.
Kobe has cited greats dating back to the 1960s, as well as players he played against during his early years (such as Jordan, Gary Payton, Clyde Drexler, and John Stockton) as players he’s learned a great deal from.
When asked of what the milestone means to him, he made sure to credit all of the generations before him, as his accomplishment would not be possible if not for the elder-statesmen who came before him and set a foundation. Certainly, he learned much of what he knows now from the master that is Michael Jordan.
Kobe has proved to be a unique player in his own right, changing his game over the years, yet still being able to do some of the things he was able to in his rookie season.
He adjusted his score-first mentality to play sidekick to Shaquille O’Neal, acting as the team’s primary play-maker and outside scorer. Then, he played in a role more similar to Jordan’s following O’Neal’s departure. More recently, he’s acted as the Lakers’ primary scorer and play-maker.
Along the way, he has exhibited instances of tenacious defense a la Scottie Pippen and Michael Cooper, Larry Bird-esque shooting, Magic Johnson-esque passing, Michael Jordan-esque dunking, Hakeem Olajuwon-esque posting, and a certain flair and creativity that only the Black Mamba could trademark.
He’s mastered the art of footwork in the NBA, and hit some of the most impossible, clutch shots in NBA history.
As a result, he’s inspired plenty of young superstars currently dominating the league in a number of ways, as most of them grew up watching (and some, idolizing) Kobe Bryant — just as Kobe idolized players like Jordan and Magic.
Passing Michael Jordan on the all-time scoring list means a lot to Kobe Bryant. It means that he’s paid the ultimate homage to one of his mentors by surpassing a mark set by His Airness.
In doing so, he’s also giving a nod to all of the legends who came before him as well.
A self-proclaimed basketball nerd, Kobe Bryant has solidified himself as the ultimate student of the game.
Once asked by Yahoo! Sports’ Marc Spears on how he wants to be remembered when his career is over, Bryant had this to say:
“I’ve always been comfortable as a kid growing up to think that when my career is over, I want them to think of me as an overachiever despite the talent that I have. To think of me as a person that’s overachieved, that would mean a lot to me. That means I put a lot of work in and squeezed every ounce of juice out of this orange that I could.”
He truly will be known for that when it’s all said and done.
He’s studied and absorbed everything he could from a number of generations before him, and produced his own thesis on a number of occasions.
One example of what Kobe has done that no other player in NBA history has accomplished is recover from a torn Achilles tendon and come back in his 19th season at age 36 as if nothing had happened.
Bryant attributed his current level of play to his around-the-clock treatment, therapy, and training. Essentially, he has created his own blueprint built on the foundation of a second-to-none work ethic, which has resulted in one of the most prolific 19-season careers in NBA history.
Kobe Bryant is no longer the ultimate student of the game that is basketball, he is now the teacher.
He is the Sensei; the Doctor; the Professor; the Master; the Guru.
Perhaps he doesn’t realize it yet, but Kobe Bryant is now the Buddha of basketball, as he deemed the man he just passed on the scoring list: Michael Jordan.
Now who’s going to climb Mount Everest and seek his tutelage?[divide]
Lakers Kobe Bryant Passes Michael Jordan On NBA All-Time Scoring List