If, like me, your #1 reason for watching the NBA playoffs this year is to root against Kobe Bryant, then you'll appreciate reading Mike Kurylo's piece at KnickerBlogger about Kobe vs MJ (via TrueHoop), if only because it gave me some validation for your hatred for #24.
Mike's points are valid - even a Kobe-lover would concede that - and they got me to wondering: How does Bryant stack up on a year-to-year basis with some of the other top scorers in NBA history?
Bryant is currently 30 years old, so, to be fair, we should only count stats for players in the same time frame. Shown below is a chart listing what I believe to be the top nine scorers at age 30, plus two youngsters who merit mentioning:
A few quick notes to take away from this graphic:
1. Michael Jordan gave Bryant a three season head start, took off two seasons (one for injury, one for baseball), and still ranks within a half-season of scoring of Kobe. Amazing.
2. Wilt Chamberlain gave Bryant a five-year head start, and managed to catch Bryant by age 30. And that's in spite of having a tired groin.
3. As far as I can tell, only one player has outscored Bryant through age 25. That player? Tracy McGrady.
4. Both LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony are ahead of Bryant at their respective ages, Melo by a small margin and LBJ by a significant one (12,993 to 10,658, a difference of 21%).
If you found that first graphic a little too cluttered, you might want to view this one instead, which just includes the three greatest scorers in league history to date: Bryant, Jordan and Chamberlain. Yes, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone are 1-2 in scoring, but they never dominated the league to the extent those aforementioned gentlemen did.
What's most interesting to me is that from ages 26 to 29, the three were almost identical in career scoring. Were it not for MJ's decision to give up basketball, that might have continued for the rest of their careers.