In his 17th season, Bryant, 34, remarkably, is not slowing down. He’s leading the league in scoring and had 29 points in the Lakers’ 103-87 victory over the Hornets in New Orleans.
He joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain in the exclusive club. He hit a sweet floater in the lane after a stutter-step with 1:16 left in the second quarter to reach the milestone.
“It’s pretty awesome,” Bryant told reporters after the game.
He credited his unparalleled work ethic and the avoidance of major injuries for his longevity and success.
“Honestly, I don’t know why I’m still working as hard as I am after 17 years,” he said. “I enjoy what I do and I think that’s the thing that I’m most proud of — every year, every day working hard at it. That’s a lot of years, a lot of work.”
He has done it better than almost everyone who has ever played the game. Interestingly, each of the others on the list, excluding Jordan, played at least some of his career with the Lakers.
“He’s the greatest Laker ever,” said none other than Magic Johnson, the Laker Hall of Famer, on ESPN after the game. “He closest (player) to Michael Jordan.”
Here are some of Bryant’s career high notes:
* He had nine straight games where he scored 40 or more points, tying the NBA record set by Jordan.
* He scored 81 points in L.A. against Toronto on Jan. 22, 2006, the second most in NBA history behind Chamberlain’s 100 against the New York Knicks in 1962. “I’ve seen some remarkable games,” said coach Phil Jackson, who also coached Jordan in Chicago. “But I’ve never seen anything like that.”
* He had four straight games of 50 or more points, tying the league record set by Chamberlain.
* He scored 61 points at Madison Square Garden in New York in 2009, the most by any player in the storied building.
* He’s the all-time Lakers scoring leader.
“I want to shake his hand,” NBA commissioner David Stern said before the game. “I think Kobe is, as a talent and a competitor, he’s up there on the pedestal with Michael Jordan as one of the greatest. Kobe has such an extraordinary run playing at the highest level for so long with the championships to prove it in a league that is extremely competitive.”