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NBA / Dec 6, 2012 / 3:00 pm

Can Kobe Break Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s All-Time Scoring Record? Dime Debates

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

With Lakers guard Kobe Bryant becoming the fifth and fastest player in NBA history to score 30,000 points, Dime is looking at all angles of the five-time champion’s career today. (Hey, we already called him the greatest player since 2000.) It’s equal parts celebration and examination of one of the NBA’s most polarizing and talented players in history.

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In the not-too-distant past (also known as: last night), Kobe Bryant broke 30,000 points for his NBA career. It’s a milestone only four others have done, but today we’ve talked about Bryant’s place in the present day NBA quite a bit. So, forget last night. Gaze into the future. What do you see? Kareem Abdul-Jabbar‘s NBA scoring record of 38,387 points. Can Bryant reach this record? We debated.

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YES, HE’LL BREAK IT
We’ve watched Kobe Bryant go through an illustrious NBA career. He’s had his share of strong years in the league, to say the least, and his on-the-court efforts have been spectacular. Really, his only moments of weakness have stemmed from things that have manifested off of the basketball court. When Kobe’s on the floor he’s a different guy.

He’s always been a hard-working player throughout his illustrious career, never showing a stretch where Bryant hasn’t been considered one of the top five players in the league aside from the start of his career. Bryant’s potential when he came into the league was that of a superstar’s. He was the first guard that was ever drafted straight from out of high school—that speaks volumes to how scouts viewed him. With all that being said, Kobe worked hard on smoothing out the edges of his game.

While the competition around him started to drop, Bryant did nothing but improve. His rivals like Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter and Allen Iverson lost their niche because they lacked the longevity that Bryant did. Bryant worked hard in the offseason through strength and conditioning training to assure himself that he’d still be able to play once he hit the mid-30s.

Obviously, this training has paid off for Bryant as he’s still producing jaw-dropping numbers to this very day. Very rapidly, Bryant is approaching 30,000 points. Right now he’s only 13 points away from that 30,000 mark that he’ll surely hit in the Lakers’ next outing tonight at New Orleans.

Now that he’s growing ever so close to 30,000, I think it’s time that we think about Kareem’s record of 38,387 — something that’s plausibly well within Bryant’s grasp. His seasonal average of total points right now is 1,874 points. From Bryant’s current mark and that point total average, it’ll take Bryant five more seasons to surpass Kareem’s record.

Right now, Bryant is 34 years old but we’ve seen great players play at high levels until they’ve hit their high 30s. Even Jordan was able to play at a high level at the age of 40 — when he was voted into the All-Star game and scored more than 20 points per game for Washington.

The question shouldn’t be whether Kobe can do it or not, but rather if Kobe can last long enough to do it. Bryant says he’ll only play for two more seasons — I don’t believe it at all. He will end up going for this record, especially with the rejuvenation that he’s had this season. His new team can definitely extend his career.

But it’s Kobe’s longevity that will get him there some day. In a few years we’ll be writing about how history has been made by Bryant. Love him or hate him, you can’t deny his scoring prowess. That’s all that it comes down to. It’s become second — actually, maybe first — nature for Bryant. That’s not going to change throughout the rest of his career.

— Michael Sykes II

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