Kobe Byrant one-up’d retired NBA great/former teammate Shaquille O’Neal on Monday night (February 6), when he passed him on the league’s all-time scoring list for the fifth spot.
The 33-year-old NBA superstar achieved the number with a long jump shot from the top of the key with 5:07 remaining in the first half, pushing him past O’Neal.
“To say it’s a huge honor would be an understatement,” Bryant said after the game. “It’s a lot of basketball. I’ve been very, very fortunate to have such a good career.”
Bryant finished the evening with 28 points, but despite the career milestone, his Lakers team lost to the Philadelphia 76ers 95-90. So even though he became the #5 scorer in NBA history, he couldn’t celebrate the way he wanted … because his team didn’t win … and that’s the story so far this season.
The Lakers are 14-11 thus far, struggling on the road with a 3-9 record. While they don’t look like the champions they once were, Kobe is gunning for ring #6.
“I just want #6, man,” Bryant told ESPN, when asked where he wanted to finish on the all-time scoring list when he retires. “I’m not asking for too much, man. Just give me a sixth ring, damn it.”
After the game O’Neal congratulated his former teammate, despite their disagreements over the years.
“I want to personally congratulate Kobe on being the greatest Laker ever,” O’Neal told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith shortly after he passed his mark. “His accomplishment is great and well deserved, and I’m really proud of him. He told me when he was 18 years old that he’d go down as the greatest Laker ever, and one of the greatest players of all time. And he wasn’t lying.
“I’m a little jealous of him because I was never able to escape the injury bug in my career, while he’s never really been injured at all. But all of that is a testament to his hard work and dedication. I’m proud of him. I’m happy for him. And, most of all, I want to thank him for being a part of the greatest 1-2 punch ever created, never to be duplicated.”
Bryant was touched by O’Neal’s remarks, telling the sports network that the pair will re-connect some time in the future.
“I appreciate it,” Kobe said. “I’m sure Shaq and I will connect at some point and revisit history. But, it’s fun. We had some good times, man. We had some good times. So thank you is what I have to say (to O’Neal).”
With 28,601 career points, Bryant now trails only Wilt Chamberlain (31,419 points), Michael Jordan (32,292 points), Karl Malone (36,928 points) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387 points) on the all-time scorer’s list.