Bryant passes Jordan on NBA scoring list
LOS Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant passed National Basketball Association (NBA) icon Michael Jordan for third on the league's all-time scoring list and lifted the Lakers to victory on Sunday.
Bryant, a five-time champion in his 19th season, came into the contest against the Minnesota Timberwolves needing nine points to surpass Jordan's career total of 32,292 points.
He tied and passed the Hall of Famer with a pair of free throws that gave the Lakers a 38-32 lead with 5min 24sec remaining in the second quarter.
He finished with 26 points, including a go-ahead three-pointer lofted over Andrew Wiggins with 1:02 to play as the Lakers triumphed 100-94.
"I'm just honoured to be here and still be playing," said Bryant, who was limited to just six games last season because of injury. "Careers don't usually last this long. I really appreciate the opportunity to be out there playing and performing and doing what I do."
Bryant, with 32,310 points, now sits behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with 38,387 and Karl Malone with 36,928 on the all-time list.
His successful free throws sparked a mini-celebration, bringing cheering fans to their feet as Bryant, 36, was awarded a game ball and congratulated by teammates and opponents.
Jordan, now owner of the Charlotte Hornets, congratulated Bryant in a statement, paying tribute to his work ethic and passion for the game.
"I look forward to seeing what he accomplishes next," said Jordan, who won six NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls.