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Kobe will someday become all-time leading playoff scorer

Apr 23, 2011, 1:31 PM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers v New Orleans Hornets - Game Three Getty Images

While he will deny it when asked about it, Kobe Bryant knows when he passes a rival or legend on an important list.

So when Kobe Shaquille O’Neal on the NBA’s all-time playoff scoring list (likely during Game 5 of the Lakers/Hornets series), he will be smirking inside and thinking of lines about how his backside tastes.

But Kobe has bigger fish on the menu. As our man Mark Medina pointed out at the Los Angeles Times, Kobe will become the NBA’s all-time leading playoff scorer.

His 5,203 career playoff points mean he’s only 46 points shy of surpassing Shaquille O’Neal‘s third-place mark (5,248), a record that likely will be broken before the Lakers-Hornets series ends. Bryant also trails (Kareem) Abdul-Jabbar (5,762) and (Michael) Jordan (5,987). I find the following scenario highly unlikely, but should the Lakers sweep their way through the 2011 NBA Finals and were Bryant to maintain his current 35.33-points-a-game average, he will have finished with 494 playoff points this season, increasing his total to 5,697. Should the Lakers go through seven games in every playoff series this season while Bryant maintains his 35.33 average, he would finish with 875 points this season, increasing his total to 6,078.

Those satisfy the short and long scenarios but don’t include the possibility that Bryant may have games where he facilitates and other games where he has 40-plus points — or series that last five or six games. But the numbers make it clear that it’s likely Bryant will surpass both Shaq and Abdul-Jabbar on the scoring list this postseason. It’s unlikely he’ll eclipse Jordan; I’m still uncertain they could beat Oklahoma City in a Western Conference Finals matchup, but Bryant will surely take the throne over Jordan in next year’s playoffs. It’s not the main motivation for Bryant right now, but it’s a carrot he’s certainly aware he could pursue.

Say what you will about Kobe (and some of you will, to be sure). But the man has had a long career playing at a high level and he steps up in big games. And in the playoffs they are almost all big games — where he has 80 30-point games in his career.

He’s going to get this record. Probably next playoffs, but he will get it. And when he does he will say all the right things about just being honored to be on the list with these amazing players, he will praise his teammates and say the rings are all that really matters.

But inside, you know what he’ll be thinking.

  1. matthewheat - Apr 23, 2011 at 3:31 PM

    Yes you’re right Kurt.

    But you’ve forgotten about one thing.

    He scored 11 points in G2 of the Lakers-Hornets series.

    Games like that also happens, you know?

    You’ve remembered about +40 games but forgotten about weak games.

    • bils293 - Apr 23, 2011 at 3:57 PM

      “…Bryant may have games where he facilitates and other games where he has 40-plus points”..so no he hasn’t forgotten

    • shaggeez - Apr 23, 2011 at 4:42 PM

      Everybody has weak games from time to time, but I think what you also have to keep in mind was that the 11 point game was the lowest point total since 2006 I think they said. Whereas I’m sure he’s had a number of +40 games in that time frame. 11 point games are much more of an anomaly than the 40s. Just saying…

  2. hoopsfanatic - Apr 23, 2011 at 5:34 PM

    As for this postseason, Kobe is 36 assists away from 5,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, and 1,000 assists in the postseason. Kobe would become only the second player in NBA history (the other being Michael Jordan) to accomplish this feat.

    As a side note, Kobe has had an interesting career. Personally, I believe he is in the top 10 greatest of all time (SLAM magazine has Kobe ranked #10). However, I do not recall anyone as good as Kobe who has such mixed opinions by people. Some people would not even ranked Kobe in the top 20, let alone top 15 (no matter how he finishes out his career). The mere mention of his name normally causes an instant emotion reaction from people.

    • LPad - Apr 23, 2011 at 8:19 PM

      That is definitely true. But at the end of the day, everyone will have to admit that he’s had a helluva a career and is one of the truly great players we will miss watching play.

  3. king3319 - Apr 23, 2011 at 11:19 PM

    No doubt one of the best of all time…and of this generation. As far as “weak” games everyone has them,the greats are more scrutinized when they do have them. Let’s not forget like Jordan he hustles on the D-side of the court to off set those bad nights..alot more than u can say for guys like Mello,Niwitski..I don’t no if these guys no that side of the floor is part of the game!!! Lol

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