Michael Jordan was among the first to publicly congratulate Kobe Bryant after the Los Angeles Lakers star passed him for third-place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list Sunday night.
“I congratulate Kobe on reaching this milestone,” Jordan said 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.”
Now in his 19th season, the 36-year-old Bryant finished with 26 points in the Lakers 100-94 win over Minnesota and now has 32,310 for his career, trailing only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387) and Karl Malone (36,928).
“I’m just honored to be here, man, to still be playing,” Bryant told ESPN. “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.”
As for the man he’s most often been compared to, Bryant said of Jordan “he knows how much I’ve learned from him. From the other legends, but him in particular.”
Still, Bryant continues to downplay now having passed his idol. “It’s really not a big deal to say I passed him for something like that,” Bryant said. “It’s a great accomplishment, but the true beauty is in the journey.”
In honor of Bryant’s achievement, Nike has commenced selling a special “Mamba Moment” shoe online for $245. For his career, Bryant has averaged 25.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game.
Late Sunday night, LeBron James and Magic Johnson both took to Twitter to congratulate Bryant with Johnson posting “congrats to Kobe Bryant on passing his idol Michael Jordan for 3rd on the NBA All-Time scoring list. Laker fans we’ve been so blessed to watch Kobe Bryant, one of the Top 5 or 6 players ever, play in a Lakers uniform.”[Photo Credit: Aaron Frutman]