NORMAN — Kobe Bryant is an enigma. Even as the Los Angels Lakers’ surperstar moved closer up the scoring charts into the 30,000-plus club, he wasn’t that impressed.
Not because the record is meaningless. It’s impossible to say that when the inhabitants include Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain and now him.
But the only thing Kobe wanted to talk about Thursday after practice was the state of his Lakers squad now. Even though he’s in his 17th year, Kobe is not about to start looking behind him now. He’s still focused on what’s in front of him.
“I think now, honestly, I don’t know why I’m still working as hard as I am after 17 years,” Bryant said. “I mean, it’s just that I enjoy what I do and I think that’s the thing that I’m most proud of — every year, every day working hard at it. That’s a lot of years, a lot of work.”
Bryant, who entered the NBA at 18, is the youngest player to reach to the 30,000-point barrier. But it has also taken him the longest in terms of games. It took him 1,179 games compared to 941 for Chamberlain. Jordan did it in 960.
But that didn’t dampen the appreciation those around the league have for the accomplishment. That includes NBA commissioner David Stern.
“(Stern) said he was in (Las) Vegas when Kareem set his milestone and he just congratulated me and told me that I was one of the best competitors that he’s seen in this game,” Bryant told ESPN.Com. “I really appreciated that. He’s done a lot for the game and obviously, this kind of being his last in the office and so forth. It really means a lot.”
What is also impressive about Bryant’s new milestone is that of the five players to reach the number, four of them have worn a Lakers’ jersey at some point. That doesn’t include L.A. greats such as Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, Jerry West and Elgin Baylor.