Kobe Bryant finally achieved what he has set out to do his whole career – go one better than Michael Jordan.
The 36-year-old modelled his game on Jordan, seen by many as the best basketball player ever, and has been compared to him his whole career. Last night, Bryant passed Jordan to move into third on the NBA’s all-time point scoring list by scoring 26 as the Lakers beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 100-94.
Bryant needed just nine points to move of Jordan heading into the game; he now has a total of 32,310 and is behind only Hall of Famers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387) and Karl Malone (36,928).
"I'm just honored to be here, man, to still be playing," Bryant, who entered the NBA in 1996, said. "I appreciate being able to play this long. Careers normally don't last this long. I really appreciate the opportunity to still be out there playing and performing and doing what I do."
In front of a capacity crowd at the Target Center, many of whom were wearing Lakers purple, Bryant passed the record – somewhat disappointingly for those watching – with two made free-throws attempts.
Bryant began to jog back before realising what he had done, when players from both teams began to embrace him before he was presented with the game ball.
Jordan later released a statement to AP: "I congratulate Kobe on reaching this milestone. He's obviously a great player, with a strong work ethic and has an equally strong passion for the game of basketball. I've enjoyed watching his game evolve over the years, and I look forward to seeing what he accomplishes next."
Bryant said: "[Jordan] knows how much I've learned from him. From the other legends, but him in particular."
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