Allen Iverson became the 16th player in NBA history to score more than 24,000 points in a career two days ago in a losing effort against the Golden State Warriors. Iverson wound up that game with 24,012 total career points. Kobe Bryant’s career point total is currently at 23,986, just 26 points behind A.I.
The Los Angeles Lakers, (Bryant’s team, for those who don’t follow,…anything), and The Memphis Grizzlies, (Iverson’s team, for those who follow NBA basketball closely and stay on the pulse of their disintegrating heroes), play tonight. So, this means that #16 on the all-time scoring list, (The Answer), will be going head to head with #17 on the all-time scoring list, (The Black Mamba is Bryant’s most appropriate nickname), and they are separated by a mere 26 points. Kobe could potentially leap frog Iverson tonight.
A more exciting statistical-geek-perfect-storm has not occurred since, I believe, April 9, 1978 when the scoring title was stolen from David “Skywalker” Thompson by George “The Iceman” Gervin by seven hundredths of a point. On that day David Thompson seemed to have secured the scoring title with his 73 point performance against the Detroit Pistons giving him a 27.15 points per game scoring average for the season. But then the San Antonia Spurs played the New Orleans Jazz later the same day. The Iceman had the Spurs PR department break out their calculators to find out what he’d need to take the scoring title and, so many finger rolls and praying mantis lookin’ jump shots later Gervin had poured in 63 and won the scoring championship with a season ending average of 27.22 ppg.
Even with Iverson relegated to coming off the bench for his fourth team in three years, he’s going to get his 18 points tonight. He got 18 for the Grizzlies against the Warriors without making any noise whatsoever. I don’t think most folks knew he was in the building. So, say he gets 18. Then Kobe would need, 26 + 18 = 44 to tie AI on the all-time list, 45 points to pull ahead. We all know Kobe is capable of this. He’s gone over 40 points nearly 100 times in his 953 game career. And then, of course, there was that one night in Toronto. (January 22, 2006 Jelly Bean Bryant’s son scored 81 points).
AI, having endured dozens of well documented injuries and suffering the unforgiving nature of the NBA’s market value will never be able to catch back up to the still rising abilities of Kobe Bryant. It is entirely conceivable that we could see a step-over move as literal, metaphorical and as dramatic as Iverson’s physical step over the Lakers’ Tyronne Lue in the 2000 championship series. Tonight.