Kobe Bryant began the 2010-11 season as a mere mortal among the NBA’s all-time leading scorers — he ranked 12th on opening night, comfortably sandwiched in between Alex English and John Havlicek with 25,790 career points to his name. But in the span of just three months, he’s rocketed up the ranks.
Seemingly every week, the Laker leader passes another legend of the game. First it was Havlicek; then Dominique Wilkins, then Oscar Robertson.
Then on Friday night, Bryant dropped 38 points on the Kings to pass Hakeem Olajuwon, moving into sole possession of eighth place all-time. He now has 26,972 career points.
The next two names will fall later this season — Elvin Hayes and Moses Malone. The last five are so sacred in basketball lore, they need only one name: Shaq. Wilt. Jordan. Malone. Kareem.
Kobe is quickly forcing his name into the conversation as one of the greatest ever to play the game. The sheer power of his numbers is too much to ignore.
Then you have the five championship rings. Those speak for themselves.
For Bryant, the last step is leaving a legacy as a Laker who rose to the occasion in the big rivalry game. That means beating the Celtics.
Last June, he took the C’s down in the Finals for the first time. Next June, he’ll look for a shot at doing it again.
But first, we’ll be treated to a regular-season showdown between the NBA’s two greatest rivals. The Celtics and Lakers hold court Sunday afternoon at the Staples Center. The C’s will look to exact revenge, while Kobe Bryant will simply continue to build his legacy. There’s still work to be done.