Kobe Bryant: Michael Jordan's message to him was 'Go get Karl'

Kobe Bryant surpasses Michael Jordan's all-time scoring total.  (USATSI)
Kobe Bryant surpasses Michael Jordan's all-time scoring total. (USATSI)

Kobe Bryant sat out of the Los Angeles Lakers' Christmas Day loss to the Chicago Bulls, but he still spoke to reporters about what it meant to pass Michael Jordan on the all-time scoring list a couple of weeks ago. Bryant said that Jordan told him to go after the next man on the list, Karl Malone, via the Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson:

Bryant said Jordan's message to him was simple.

"'Go get Karl,' " Bryant said. "The competitor never stops."

Then Bryant grew reflective.

"It was more of a thankful feeling to Michael and the players who came before because I've learned so much from them," he said. "And I don't say that lightly. I've literally just stolen (stuff) from them — like spin moves and pull-ups. It's not me passing these players. It's us.

Malone scored 36,928 points in his 19-year career, which is second all-time behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Bryant is sitting at 32,365. Let's say Bryant keeps averaging his current mark of 25.4 points per game, even though he and Lakers head coach Byron Scott have talked about reducing his minutes load lately. That would require Bryant to play 180 more regular-season games in order to catch Malone. His contract expires at the end of the 2015-2016 season, so it seems highly unlikely he'll get there.

It's just nice to know that Jordan reached out to Bryant, though, beyond releasing a statement to the Associated Press. The two legends will be forever linked, long after Bryant steps away from the game.

CBS Sports Writer

James Herbert is somewhat fond of basketball, feature writing and understatements. A former season-ticket holder for the expansion Toronto Raptors, Herbert does not think the NBA was better back in the... Full Bio

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