With an indifferent expression, stony silence and a downplaying of each milestone, Kobe Bryant tried hard to show that he wasn't preoccupied with climbing the NBA's all-time scoring list.
But not many believed him, including Phil Jackson. When I asked the former Lakers coach last season which player Bryant wants to pass on the scoring list the most, Jackson replied without hesitation, "Michael Jordan."
But can he?
It looks solid for Bryant by Medina's exhaustive math: Kobe is less than 5,000 points behind MJ for No. 3 on the all-time list right now, if he maintains his most recent scoring average (25 ppg last year), he'd need 200 games to beat MJ. He has three seasons left on his current L.A. Lakers contract. Even if the NBA lockout shortens next season to a 50-game run, he'd get 200 games in three years (barring injury) and should beat MJ or be close enough to handle the job in an additional 2014-15 season.
Catching No. 1 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's a taller task, with 10,000 points separating the two. But if it's plausible, does anyone doubt we could see Kobe playing through age 60 to get that record? He'd probably still get voted onto the All-Defense team.