Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant achieved another milestone in his outstanding career, becoming the youngest player in NBA history to score 30,000 points.
Bryant joined an elite club that includes just five other players: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain and Julius Erving.
The shooting guard reached the mark late in the first half of the Lakers' Wednesday night road game against the New Orleans Hornets when he penetrated into the paint and connected on a right-handed floater.
Bryant got his 30,000th point at the age of 34 years and 104 days. The previous record had been held by Chamberlain, who eclipsed that points barrier at 35 years and 179 days.
Jordan, considered by many as the greatest basketball player of all time, was 38 when he reached 30,000 points.
In terms of amassing points, Bryant has an advantage over the legendary Chicago Bulls player in that he started his NBA career straight out of high school and was a starter for the Lakers at 20 years old, an age when Jordan was still playing at the University of North Carolina.
Abdul-Jabbar, a former Milwaukee Bucks and Lakers great who entered the NBA at age 22 after playing for UCLA, holds the all-time record with 38,387 points.
"Honestly, I don't know why I'm still working as hard as I am after 17 years. I enjoy what I do. I think that's the thing that I'm most proud of. Every year, every day working hard at it. It's a lot of years, a lot of work," Bryant, a five-time NBA champion, said in the post-game press conference.
"I want to shake his hand. I think Kobe is, as a talent and a competitor, up there on the pedestal with Michael Jordan. He's one of the greatest," NBA Commissioner David Stern said prior to the Lakers-Hornets game.
Bryant has had "an extraordinary run, playing at the highest level for so long, with the championships to prove it," he added.
The star guard, who leads the league in scoring this season with 28 points per game, needed just 13 to get to 30,000 and ended up with 29 as the Lakers rolled to a comfortable 103-87 victory.
The Hornets were led by forward Ryan Anderson, who made 5-of-8 3-pointers and finished with 31 points.
The struggling Lakers improved to 9-10 on the season and the lowly Hornets fell to 5-12.
In other action on a busy Wednesday night in the NBA, the New York Knicks rallied past the Charlotte Bobcats 100-98, the Indiana Pacers topped the Portland Trailblazers 99-92, the Boston Celtics defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 104-94 and the Golden State Warriors knocked off the Detroit Pistons 104-97.
The Chicago Bulls cruised past the Cleveland Cavaliers 95-85, the Atlanta Hawks edged the Denver Nuggets 108-104, the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 110-99, the Utah Jazz clipped the Orlando Magic 87-81, the Sacramento Kings topped the Toronto Raptors 107-100 and the Los Angeles Clippers routed the Dallas Mavericks 112-90. EFE