Kobe Bryant had a few spectacular plays in the All-Star Game on Sunday. One highlight stood above the rest, even though it might not have been more spectacular than the others. That was the deuce that put Bryant ahead of Michael Jordan for the All-Star scoring record. The record puts Bryant ahead of Jordan in just one exhibition category, but some might wonder what it means.
The basket was a seemingly routine play for Bryant. After Kevin Durant stole the ball from LeBron James inside five minutes left in the third quarter, Bryant dashed out on the fast break and took the pass from Durant. Then, he coolly slammed it home.
The play went on unceremoniously, and the Los Angeles Lakers star went on like normal.
That's just what he should have done. Bryant might have recognized that he was approaching the record before the game. However, it's not scoring mark at which Bryant wants to beat Jordan. He'd surely rather beat Jordan in regular season scoring. Surpassing Jordan in that category would be sweet for Bryant.
Currently, Bryant's 28,838 points are 3,358 behind Jordan's 32,292. Pending examination on his broken nose, Bryant is on pace to score 909 more points this season, finishing with 1,875 on the season. If he can manage to match his 28.4 points per game of this season next season, Bryant would finish his 17th season 120 points short of Jordan's total.
If his body allows him to continue at age 35 despite the injuries he's sustained, Bryant could pass Jordan in November 2013.
That would surely be sweeter than scoring more than Jordan in the All-Star Game.
The All-Star Game is just an exhibition. Teams don't play defense. Shooting figures are laughably high as teams run the floor, isolate defenders and drive dunks in the basket. Bryant certainly recognizes that. The game may be fun and the four All-Star Game MVP awards may be nice, but winning real games and titles means more.
Meanwhile, Jordan might be a bit resentful. Jordan wants to win at everything, and the All-Star Game isn't least among competitive ventures to him. He played one less than Bryant has. If Jordan had the body to jump in the game, he'd likely try to win the record right back.
Nevertheless, it's Bryant's record now. It's one more achievement for Bryant. In the course of the season, it'll become a footnote as he fights to carry the Lakers to the NBA Finals. The moment will fade as Bryant fights for more important goals.