Is 30,000 enough?

By Hamilton King

30,000 is a fairly large number right?  In terms of dollars, $30,000 can buy you a fully loaded Honda, Nissan, Toyota, or even a new Camaro.  30,000 yen translates into $363.68 US dollars, and 30,000 minutes equals 500 hours.  But for Kobe Bryant and much of the sports world, 30,000 denotes membership into one of the NBA’s most elite clubs.

Before Kobe dropped 29 points against the New Orleans *Pelicans, going 10-17 from the field and 8-9 from the charity stripe, only four other NBA super stars had reached the exclusive 30,000-point club.  Kobe joins Wilt Chamberlain, fellow Laker Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl “The Mailman” Malone, and of course the greatest to ever play Michael Jordan.  Kobe is without a doubt joining elite company.

Kobe adds five NBA Championships, one NBA MVP, and fourteen All-Star appearances to a group that had already combined for sixteen championships, seventeen league MVPs, and sixty All-Star games.  In a league where players are constantly compared to those who came before them, this is a huge accomplishment, but is it enough to satisfy “the Black Mamba?”  I think not.  I mean the guy went to Germany during the off-season to have a procedure on his knee that can’t be performed in the US.

At the age of 34, Bryant is the youngest player to reach this milestone.  Though MJ took a few years off, he didn’t reach 30,000 until his time with the Washington Wizards.  At the age of 34, Bryant is also posting one of his best NBA seasons.  He is currently leading the league in scoring and is having his most-efficient scoring season.  Thankfully he is on my fantasy basketball team.  Is it possible that Kobe is getting better with age?  He lacks some of the bounce that he showed off in his younger days, but his fine tuned fade away jump shot is almost indefensible.  Don’t get me wrong, Kobe can still get to the rack as he displayed in last year’s playoffs, but this is no longer his weapon of choice.

In the NBA, players are measured above all by winning.  Bryant has already proven that by notching five titles and being a clutch performer when the game is on the line.  But for a fierce competitor like Bryant, I doubt that is enough to satisfy him.  He is trying to not only cement his own legacy, but also set benchmarks by which all future players will be measured.

The Lakers sport a fresh lineup this year with the blockbuster additions of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash.  With these additions come heightened expectations, and although Kobe is having one of his best years, the Lakers are still struggling and have a below .500 record.  This below par record probably reflects the team still coming together, but come playoff time will they have what it takes to compete with the likes of OKC, San Antonio, and their roommates the Clippers?  Will Kobe be able to keep up his current scoring throughout the regular season and into the post-season?  And if not, how many more years will his body allow him to chase that elusive sixth NBA title?  How will Kobe Bryant punctuate what has been a remarkable hall of fame career?  It would only be fitting for him to go out on top, clutching another Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy.

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