Considering how hard Kobe Bryant has to work for every bucket, it must have been somewhat of a let down to become the Lakers’ all-time leading scorer on such a gimmie.
Knowing the type of competitor the Mamba is, he’ll be haunted by the result of the game more so than the nature in which he passed Jerry West. Despite pouring in 44 points on a brilliant 16-28 shooting night, the Lakers ended their longest road trip of the season with a bitterly disappointing 95-93 loss to the much improved Memphis Grizzlies.
Had Ron Artest converted the good look he got at a potential game winning three, this night would have been one for the record books. Instead, Phil Jackson is still tied with Pat Riley for most wins in franchise history. The next chance PJ will get comes Wednesday night as the Charlotte Bobcats, a team that has had the Lake Show’s number in recent years, enter Staples.
While the outcome was unfitting for such a historic occasion, the symmetry in which Kobe accomplished this milestone is ironic to say the least.
Just over 14 years ago, Jerry West decided to go check out this high school hoops prodigy in Pennsylvania. When he returned from his trip, West proclaimed Kobe Bryant to be the most intriguing prospect he’d every seen. As one of the great general managers in NBA history, West proved he is also a modern day alchemist by turning Vlade Divac into Kobe Bryant via a draft day trade.
The rest is history.
After being the architect of yet another Lakers’ dynasty, West opted to leave the organization, eventually taking up the same position as GM of the Memphis Grizzlies.
On Monday night, the man who proudly stands as the symbol of the NBA saw his most prized pupil push past him as the greatest scorer in Lakers’ history. Kobe needed only 29 points to complete the task but netted 44, matching the retired number that hangs from high above Staples Center with the name “West” on the back. Just for good measure, KB24’s accomplishment occurred in Memphis, the last stop on Jerry’s NBA tour.
During Kobe’s ascension to the summit of Laker greatness, he passed such iconic names as James Worthy, Wilt Chamberlain, Shaquille O’Neal, Elgin Baylor, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and finally Jerry West. He did so with clutch shots, breathtaking moves, unbelievable scoring performances and a competitive nature unlike any other currently in the game.
Over the last week, the debate on “who is the greatest Laker of all-time” has raged, building to the moment when Kobe would stand alone atop the record book.
Now that the moment is here, the debate will continue until it ultimately morphs into another poignant question: Is Kobe Bryant the greatest to ever play the game?
We’ve still got plenty of time to delve into that topic. So for now, we’ll just congratulate Kobe on such a historic moment while also being thankful for bearing witness to such an amazing career.
25,208 points and counting!