The Los Angeles Lakers star, now in his 19th season, passed the Chicago Bulls legend (32,292 points) and the player to whom he has long been compared with a free throw in the second quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Target Center.
“I’m just honored to be here, man, to still be playing,” Bryant 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.”
Bryant, 36, entered Sunday’s 100-94 win eight points shy of Jordan’s mark. He finished with 26 points on 7-of-20 shooting to go along with six rebound and two assists. Bryant now trails only Abdul-Jabbar (38,387) and Malone (36,928) in career NBA points.
For Bryant, the milestone is no small feat, as he forged his Hall of Fame career in Jordan’s shadow, with every achievement measured against his idol, almost since the day Bryant entered the league in 1996 at the age of 18.
“I congratulate Kobe on reaching this milestone,” Jordan told the Associated Press in a statement. “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.”
“He knows how much I’ve learned from him,” Bryant said of Jordan. “From the other legends, but him in particular.”