Its official -- Kobe Bryant is on top of the record books. He passed all the greats on the way up the leaderboard and now he's the greatest of all time. The greatest at missing shots.
On Tuesday against the Memphis Grizzlies, Kobe missed his 13,418th shot in a regular season game, passing John Havlicek for the most missed field goal attempts in a career. Kobe had set the record for combined regular and postseason misses last year, also passing Havlicek, but considering the differences in postseason length between now and Havlicek's day, it was hardly fair to strip Hondo of his record then.
Here's a look at the record-breaking miss:
Here's the leaderboard, as it stands:
- Kobe Bryant, 13,418 (and counting)
- John Havlicek, 13,417
- Elvin Hayes, 13,296
- Karl Malone, 12,682
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 12,470
- Michael Jordan, 12,345
If you took just Kobe's misses, he'd have the 88th most shot attempts of all time, in between Rasheed Wallace and Derek Harper.
Although we can mock Kobe all we want for this ignominious record, his futility title stands as a testament to a truly great career. The list of players with the most misses is littered with Hall of Famers. He's been talented enough for long enough to demand a starring role with an NBA team for 19 years. That's nearly impossible.
This works in other sports too -- Pete Rose has the most outs in MLB history, over 1,000 more than Hank Aaron. Brett Favre has more interceptions than any other quarterback.
And Kobe is a different type of player than the ones in his stratus of field goal attempts. Kareem and Malone were big men who shot high percentages around the hoop. Havlicek played before the three-point shot. Jordan took threes, but never made it a major part of his game.
Kobe has taken nearly 5,000 threes. And he still shot a better percentage overall from the field than Havlicek, who only played 16 seasons and had no incentive to take the 25-footers Kobe regularly hits.
Kobe should hold onto this record for a long time. There's no active player in Kobe's vicinity. Vince Carter is in second place amongst active players, with 11,655 misses. Even if Kobe stopped playing now, we doubt Vince will play long enough with a large enough role to hit Kobe's current mark. Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen all have between 10,000 and 11,000 misses and are also all in the twilight of their careers.
I know what you're wondering: Could LeBron catch Kobe? It seems possible. In LeBron's 12th year in the league, he's missed 8,492 shots. Entering this year, he'd missed an average of 767 shots per year. If he keeps up that pace for another seven years without major injuries -- seems possible, right? -- he'd catch Kobe's current mark. That said, LeBron has somehow managed to raise his field goal percentage every year he's been in the league besides one to the point that he shot an incredible 56.7 percent last year, so his missing rate has gone down.
Carmelo Anthony is also a contender -- he's missed 8,565 shots int he same amount of time as LeBron, and is only a year older. So if he keeps up his pace, he'd catch Kobe too, although we find it harder to imagine a 40-year-old Melo convincing somebody to give him 20 shots a game than LeBron.
That said, whether somebody catches Kobe is up to Kobe. Kobe isn't done chucking. He currently leads the NBA in field goal attempts as he attempts to carry the Los Angeles Lakers on his back. His contract runs through next year, and rumors are he may be interested in playing past that. We could see him hit 15,000 misses in his career.
When Kobe retires, we'll talk about all his incredible accomplishments -- his five rings, his 81-point game, his legacy with the Lakers.
We won't talk about his miss record. But in an odd way, it tells us more about Kobe's wonderful career than anything else about Kobe.