If there’s one thing that we’ve come to learn about Kobe Bryant over his 17-year run in the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers, it’s that he cares about his place in history. He wants to be the best that’s ever played. Obviously he would like to get a sixth title under his belt. However, another goal that he may have in mind is the all-time career scoring leader in the league.
Over his career, Bryant has scored a remarkable 31,617 points. As of right now, the day of his 35th birthday, he trails Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the reigning career scoring leader, by 6,770 points. With Kobe’s Achilles injury last season and his return date being uncertain heading into this season, what will it take for Bryant to overtake Kareem for that record?
For now, let’s say that Kobe plays for four more seasons. Given his age, let’s also say that Kobe plays around 62 games per season over those four years, meaning he would play roughly 250 games over those seasons. To tie Kareem’s record, he would have to average just under 27.1 points per game over those four seasons. Considering the fact that many people were amazed that Bryant was able to average 27.3 points per game in the 2012-2013 season, that scenario seems unlikely.
Now, let’s say that Bryant plays for five seasons and 300 more games, meaning 60 games per season. If that were the case, then Bryant would have to average 22.6 points per game to break Kareem’s record. That seems a little more plausible, but considering that Kobe would be 40 years old and in his 22nd year in the NBA by that last season, that seems somewhat implausible, even if it is Kobe.
Bryant potentially breaking the scoring record really comes down to two things: one is how quality the teams are that he plays with over the rest of his career and how many more years he plays. If Kobe only has two years left in his career, he’s not going to break the scoring record. However, if he’s on bad teams where he’s given the green light to shoot 30 times per game while playing another four years, then it’s completely feasible.
Basically, Bryant breaking the scoring record has a lot of variables that need to be factored in that we can’t predict at this point. As of right now, it seems unlikely that he will be able to get there. However, after all we’ve seen from Kobe over his illustrious career, it’s hard to count him out of doing anything on a basketball court.