Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant surpassed Michael Jordan on the NBA scoring list against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday night, topping MJ's total of 32,292 points. Following that historic accomplishment, Bryant wrote about how Jordan inspired him to continue playing basketball.
In an exclusive for The Players' Tribune, the 16-time All-Star noted that he almost gave up on the sport before hearing about Jordan struggling early in high school:
Here’s where my respect and admiration for MJ was forged. I learned that he had been cut from his high school team as a freshman; I learned he knew what it felt like to be embarrassed, to feel like a failure. But he used those emotions to fuel him, make him stronger, he didn’t quit. So I decided to take on my challenge the same way he did. I would channel my failure as fuel to keep my competitive fire burning. I became obsessed with proving to my family — and more importantly to myself — that I CAN DO THIS.
Prior to that, Bryant noted that he felt he "put my family to shame" by not scoring in Philadelphia’s Sonny Hill Future League. At that point, he was only 12 years old and contemplated focusing on soccer.
Now, Bryant stands alone at third on the NBA scoring list for his career. The Lakers' official Twitter account passed along a note after he finally eclipsed Jordan:
This serves as yet another great example of how current and former stars can affect future standouts. Bryant and Jordan's careers barely overlapped, but the torch was passed at a young age when an NBA career was an afterthought for Bryant.
At 36 years old, Bryant is enjoying another great season after returning from injury last year. Averaging 25.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.9 assists, he is still on par with his career averages of 25.5, 5.3 and 4.8, respectively.
Los Angeles may not be competitive in the Western Conference this season, but Bryant has still won five NBA championships with the team. His legacy is already set, much like Jordan's was late in his career.
Maybe one day another young player will note how important current stars like Bryant, LeBron James or Kevin Durant are for their own future. For now, Bryant has Jordan to thank for the inspiration he provided him throughout his journey to this spot in the record books.
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