With a hanging bank shot while driving to his right in the third quarter of L.A.’s Friday evening win over New Orleans, Kobe Bryant became the ninth greatest scorer in NBA history, surpassing hoops legend Oscar Robertson.
Bryant needed 16 points to one-up Robertson, and finished the game with 25 to reach 26,720 for his career.
“Oscar was a big personality, one of the great players of the game, arguably one of the top guards to ever play the game,” said Phil Jackson. “Kobe obviously fits in that category now, and he’s persistently gone on through his career and had the longevity to do this. He really recognizes this as a great mile mark.”
Bryant said that he was of course honored and humbled to surpass a player he grew up modeling part of his game after, as Robertson — along with Jerry West and Michael Jordan — was a big, physical guard who imposed his will on his opponents. Bryant took Robertson’s baseline jumper and made it his own, accounting for more than a few of his 26,000-plus points.
That said, the record Bryant most admires is not Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time scoring record (38,387), but rather Bill Russell’s record for rings (11).
Nonetheless, if Bryant continues his current scoring pace of about 25 points per game, he’ll pass Hakeem Olajuwon (26,946), Elvin Hayes (27,313) and Moses Malone (27,409) later in the season to reach No. 6 on the historical chart.