The Score: Kobe Bryant’s Rise Up the All-Time Scoring List

FINDINGS:

Kobe has to best the best of the best if he wants to become the all-time greatest scorer. Here they are:

Shaquille O’Neal-28,582 Points: As Kobe gets older and the scoring ladder gets harder to climb, the Mamba is going to meet an old friend as he tries to enter the top five. It looks like the red car could drive around the wall no matter how old the model may be. When Kobe passes Shaq, everyone will surely attempt to make something big out of it, but in reality it’s nothing.

Wilt Chamberlain-31,419 Points: As we get into 30, 000 territory will Kobe be out of bounds or will he find a home amongst the elite? Chamberlain’s position is on a high stilt, that’s what happened when you crack the century mark in 48 minutes of play. Still Kobe’s not far behind him as this current and former Laker have a lot in common. Kobe’s career high of 81 has put him right behind Wilt in another scoring category and many critics have talked about whether he can go one better. In a game maybe not, but over a few more 82’s? That will do.

Michael Jordan-32,292 Points: If you thought there was a lot riding on overcoming Shaq, how about if Kobe has a chance to enter the top 3? He could take M.J. Throughout Bryant’s career the like Mike similarities and comparisons have been drawn out. Could it be that Kobe could actually beat Mike? Now this won’t end the debate of who’s better, or start it for those that know that Michael will always be king. Still, with almost identical offensive skills and age not offending Kobe right now, number 24 could really be more than number 23.

Karl Malone-36,928 Points: Now, going deeper does Kobe have the goods to deliver more points than the Mailman? Does he even have the strength and conditioning to play into his 40’s for that matter? When Kobe’s goatee begins to sport greys, will he still be able to pick his spots and roll to the basket like Malone could. Karl ended his career playing with Kobe in L.A. and although things didn’t end so well then, it’s clear the conclusion of these two players hasn’t been written just yet.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar-38,387 Points: Records were meant to be broken and everyone wants the top spot, but can Kobe cap Kareem’s and the league’s total, thus becoming the all-time Laker and the all-time player? 10,519 is a lot of points for a guy who has already done this twice over in 15 years and is way into the third act of his career. Still, if anyone in the league right now could do it, it’s Kobe. The guy is a scoring machine, and a regular franchise feature in the early parts of summer. If only Kobe had a signature shot (bar the M.J. fade) like Jabbar then the limit would be the sky. You know Kobe would then have this hook line and sinker. Now the question is, will he score big, or will he fadeaway.

CONCLUSIONS:

Kobe Bryant-27,868 Points: There are too many variables here to determine (i.e.injuries and playing time etc.). Kobe’s knee is a factor as are the teammates that he shares the ball with. How much longer can Bryant play for and at a how high of level? 35? Maybe. 40? Perhaps, if he puts on airs and mirrors the ‘Floor Jordan’ era. Still, the more time Kobe has left, the more likely he is of climbing the charts. At 32 (soon to be 33), he could definitely continue playing at a high level for many years to come — perhaps until he’s 37. With that idea in mind, he could still make it. If he kept up an unlikely 30 point average into his mid-to-late 30’s, he’d clear Kareem like a high jumper with 12,300 more points in the books, just from regular season games of around 2,460 points each year.

If we looked at this more realistic career average of around 25 points, (which he could more realistically maintain) that would keep Kobe at around 2,050 points each season. Over five more years, that would give the mamba 10,250 points, which wouldn’t snake him the top spot. However, this isn’t taking in playoff games, that could take him further in more ways then one. With more of Gasol, Odom, Artest and Bynum, who knows how far this Laker dynasty could go in the next five years. Even if the lockout will only put a freeze on NBA time and not Bryant’s age. The more rings Kobe gets the more positions he’ll take in this top-ten. Still taking playoffs out the equation makes up for the points that could be lost due to age, injury or ball-sharing (that’s passing Kobe) that could help give us a more realistic conclusion.

There are plenty of variables and things standing in the way of Kobe reaching the top, but he’s going to make up more spots this year and he could definitely crack the top three. As for going all the way, it may look doubtful in some degrees, but it’s still a possibility for a man who has so often defied the impossible. Winning is everything, but you know in the back of Kobe’s mind, this is a mission he chooses to accept. Let’s keep score, 10,519 to go and counting. Catch up!

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