In his 17th year in the NBA, Kobe Bryant has racked up numbers to rival that of any player ever to play the game. This season, he has passed a "who's who" in NBA history as far as career accomplishments go.
Bryant remains about 900 points behind Michael Jordan for third all-time and right around 7,000 behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the top spot, so it'll be a while before we see him pass anyone else.
With that, this seems to be a perfect time to take a look back at his career.
With the number of NBA championships, All-Star Game appearances, international accolades and individual statistical achievements he's racked up, Bryant has a nearly unrivaled resume.
In his time in the league, Kobe's gone from being a young phenom and second banana to one of the greatest centers of all time to an egotistical go-to guy, a league MVP, the top dog on two championship teams and eventually the grizzled veteran who continues to score 27 points per game, while racking up assists at one of his highest rates.
Short of a career transformation, Kobe has tweaked his game enough here and there to mold himself into whatever his team needs. The results have been multiple championships, as well as him becoming one of the most controversial superstars the league has ever seen.
In celebration of his historic year, it seems necessary to see where he stands among the all-time greats of the sport.
To tweak a line from Bill Russell's cameo in Kyrie Irving's "Uncle Drew" commercial, Kobe's game has always been, and will always be, about buckets.
While that may seem a bit narrow-minded in terms of assessing a player's all-around game, it couldn't be truer than when talking about Bryant. His game has always been centered on scoring, for better or worse.
Kobe's scoring milestone put him fourth all-time, but there's so much more to look at in his career in terms of throwing an orange ball through a darker orange circle.
He's thrown together a career scoring average of 25.5 points per game, good enough for 11th on the NBA's all-time list, but his accomplishments go beyond that.
As far as top-notch scoring seasons go, Bryant has averaged at least 25 points per game 12 times in his career, including this year.
Assuming he plays in the rest of the Lakers' games this season, he'll notch his eighth campaign with at least 2,000 points.
His three seasons averaging 30 points per game ties him with Adrian Dantley and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, although he's well behind Wilt Chamberlain's seven seasons and Jordan's eight.
Of course, all that scoring has come by way of Bryant taking over 24,000 shots (fifth all-time), nearly 5,000 three-pointers (sixth), and over 9,000 free throws (fifth). Of those career attempts, he's made nearly 11,000 field goals (seventh all-time), over 1,600 three-pointers (12th) and nearly 8,000 free throws (third).
If there's one thing to take away from all this, it's that Kobe never met a shot he wouldn't take, and he's never taken a shot that he thought he wouldn't make.
There are a lot of strange statistical categories out there that you can look at—not necessarily to tell if a certain guy was a good player, but rather to tell what type of player he was and how important he was to his team.
One of my favorites to look at is usage percentage. While it doesn't give a lot of information about the outcome of specific plays, it tells how often a player was "used" throughout the course of a game and, by extension, the course of a year or a career.
It tells you who has the ball and how often he has it, which usually means it tells you which player is most important to his team's offense.
At a usage rate of 31.78 percent, just three players remain ahead of Kobe for the highest usage percentage since the creation of the statistic back in 1978. Michael Jordan is tops all-time, Dwyane Wade is stuck at just over 32 percent and Allen Iverson sits just six-hundredths of a percent ahead of Kobe.
With Wade at the peak of his career and a downturn in production likely in the not-too-distant future, he should dip below Bryant, and with Kobe still putting up usage rates above 32 percent, it's entirely likely that he could end up being the second-most used player since 1978.
That tells you nothing of how productive he may have been, but it tells you how important he was for an extended period of time.
Equally interesting is Basketball-Reference's Hall of Fame probability indicator.
It's quite easy to look at most players and tell whether or not they are potential Hall of Famers. However, the B-R indicator's compilation of statistical achievements and awards throughout a player's career puts a numerical probability on players making the Hall of Fame.
Just nine players on their list are no-doubt, 100 percent Hall of Fame-worthy players, with Kobe being the only active player among the nine.
Five championships, 15 All-Star Game appearances, four All-Star Game MVP Awards, two NBA Finals MVP Awards and a single regular-season MVP Award. Throwing down a list of Kobe Bryant's awards is impressive enough on its own, but it's the debate around his honors that really sums up his career.
Across 16 seasons, Kobe pulled down five NBA titles, but the conversation is always over how many titles his teams won.
Obviously the 2009 and 2010 championship squads were Kobe's teams, but going back to the ShaKobe Era breeds debate and ire.
During Los Angeles' three-peat years, pundits deemed the Lakers Shaquille O'Neal's team, with Kobe trotting around as the team's second banana.
For the first two titles that's undeniably true, but there's an argument to be made that Kobe was the most important player during the 2002 season, as he played 13 more games than Shaq. He also led the team in points and really showed that he was capable of being the team leader.
In terms of league MVPs, it's easy to see that he deserved to win his lone award in 2007-08, but the conversation always steers back as to why Kobe did not pick up more MVPs.
Obviously the 2006 season in which he averaged 35 points would have made a ton of sense. Steve Nash took home the award that year, with his Suns disposing of Bryant and the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs that year.
Most interesting about Kobe's MVP credentials is the fact that—though he won just that single MVP—he's 11th on the list of MVP shares. Total MVP shares takes into account the percentage of votes a player got compared to the rest of the field in any given season.
As far as being the league's best shooting guard, Kobe has pretty much had that title on lockdown for most of his career. He's been named to the All-NBA First Team 10 times and the All-Defensive First Team nine times.
Kobe's career has been a model of top-tier consistency, the likes of which have rarely been approached.
Kobe Bryant was a 17-year-old high school junior when the second rendition of the USA Dream Team came around in 1996. He got married in the 2000 offseason, and the 2004 Olympics happened to have some scheduling conflicts with a certain legal case.
That means we never got to see Kobe put on his country's colors until well into his career. Once he did, it was all domination for Team USA.
While he was named to the preliminary 2006-2008 USA roster, he couldn't participate in the 2006 FIBA World Championships because of knee surgery.
2007 was a cakewalk to FIBA Americas Championship gold, a precursor to the 2008 Olympics. With Kobe on board, Team USA went 10-0 on the way to a gold medal. Team USA won every game by double digits, and its closest game was a 15-point margin.
Kobe hung around for the 2008 Olympics, helping the Redeem Team to gold after a disappointing bronze finish in 2004. Bryant played for the most recent reincarnation of the Dream Team in 2012, helping Team USA to the gold in London.
He was no dominant force, but he brought an old man's know-how to a crew comprised of a bunch of young folks. Bryant averaged 13.6 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.3 steals and just under a block per game in his Olympic career.
His two gold medals tie him with a handful of other players for the most golds in the sport since basketball was added to the Olympics back in 1936.
Kobe Bryant remains incredibly close to the all-time lead in playoff scoring, as his 5,640 points leave him just a bit behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's 5,762 and about 300 behind Michael Jordan's 5,987. Given a few more seasons of playoff play, Kobe should become the first player to eclipse the 6,000-point plateau.
Given the level of play that Kobe has been at for his entire career, that's nearly three additional seasons of scoring in the postseason.
Bryant's playoff scoring average is right along the lines of his career average, putting up 25.64 points per game in the postseason.
Even more impressive, when he gets into the NBA Finals and the pressure is on, his ability to play at a high level doesn't waver a bit. Kobe averages 25.32 points per game in the finals, giving him barely any variation in output regardless of the level of play he's facing.
Bryant remains just one of nine players to pick up multiple NBA Finals MVP Awards in his career, and his five NBA championships put him tied for 14th. A sixth ring would put him right on par with the greatest player of the three-point-line era.
He's as consistent a player we've seen since Michael Jordan when it comes to postseason play, and he is the first player since Jordan to show off the same level of desire and downright insane drive to win a title at all costs.