From Zach Harper, CBS Sports: Only three players in NBA history have scored more points than Kobe Bryant. Other than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone and Michael Jordan, Bryant has outscored thousands and thousands of players who have laced up sneakers and put on a jersey in the NBA. We know Kobe is going to pass Michael Jordan’s career total. But if he’s going to approach Karl Malone’s career total and take a stab at becoming the all-time leading scorer in the NBA by passing Kareem, he’s going to have to play beyond his current contract that is up in the summer of 2014. And Kobe’s decision on playing beyond his current contract, when he’ll be 36 years old and 18 seasons deep into his NBA career, is something that he’ll be prepared to make this summer.
From Ben R, Silver Screen & Roll: Don’t lie: you all thought that the Lakers were done after the first quarter. Their offensive flow wasn’t bad, but they couldn’t stop theKings in any aspect whatsoever on defense, an unsurprising development considering that the Lakers’ best perimeter defender in Metta World Peace was absent. The Kings, usually a doormat in the conference, had the league’s best offense since the All-Star break, and the Lakers were in no position to do much to deter that attack. Without MWP, the Lakers have precisely one plus defender in Dwight Howard and a defensive lineup typified by apathy (Kobe Bryant), a lack of size (Jodie Meeks), and limited mobility (Pau Gasol). And even Dwight, after showing that he had been on an upward trend in his recovery from back surgery, was not yet at the dominant level he displayed in Orlando to avert…whoops.
From Kevin Ding, OC Register: This bone spur in Kobe Bryant’s left foot? He has had it for years. Years. He has played through it for years without publicizing it and the challenges it has prompted him to overcome. Think about that the next time anyone says Bryant’s toughness, focus or drive for greatness is overdramatized. Whether Bryant now chooses to detail the specifics of the bone spur, it’s incredibly appropriate that on his latest historic night – passing Wilt Chamberlain for No. 4 on the NBA all-time scoring list Saturday in Sacramento – he played all but 22.6 seconds of the game just two days after the bone spur prompted a wheelchair to be requested for him to leave Milwaukee’s Bradley Center. (He didn’t use it.) Bryant could still have offseason surgery to remove the spur, but bear in mind this is the guy who never did have surgery on that mangled right pinky finger in 2008 or that arthritic right index finger in 2010. He figures out a way around it and goes to the ends of the earth to analyze the best course of treatment with the least time on the court lost – so he can maximize his job performance (and championship odds). This is all a roundabout way to get to the Lakers’ next man of the hour: Shaquille O’Neal, who will be rightly honored Tuesday night at Staples Center with the retirement of his No. 34 Lakers jersey.
From Dave McMenamin, ESPN LA: Move over Big Dipper. Make way for the Black Mamba. Kobe Bryant moved into fourth place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list in the Los Angeles Lakers’ game against the Sacramento Kings, passing Wilt Chamberlain. Bryant’s pull-up jumper from the foul line with 7:55 remaining in the second quarter gave Bryant 31,421 points for his career, edging past Chamberlain’s 31,419 total. “What a journey,” Bryant said after scoring 19 points and handing out 14 assists, one shy of his career high, in the Lakers’ 103-98 win over the Kings. “It’s been a very, very long journey. I’m certainly extremely appreciative of all the support and the Laker faithful, the ‘Laker Nation,’ from being a 17-year-old kid to a 34-year-old man and all the support they’ve given me throughout my career.”
From Mike Bresnahan, LA Times: Lakers fans were well aware that Steve Nash missed a ton of time when the season began. And Pau Gasol was sidelined by a variety of injuries. And more recently, Metta World Peace wouldn’t be back until the Western Conference semifinals, as if the Lakers — or their followers — were thinking that far ahead. But Coach Mike D’Antoni often points out the least-analyzed injury of the Lakers’ season — Steve Blake missing 37 games because of abdominal surgery and subsequent groin soreness. Blake just completed his best month in three seasons with the Lakers, and he’ll be counted on for more production as Nash struggles with hamstring and hip soreness.