Friday, January 28, 2011
Updated: February 1, 6:03 AM ET
Kobe Bryant passes Hakeem Olajuwon
By Dave McMenamin
LOS ANGELES -- Two summers ago, Kobe Bryant called up Hakeem Olajuwon so he could see the legendary big man's footwork up close and try to steal a few of his post moves.
Friday night against the Sacramento Kings, Bryant took Olajuwon's place in the record books.
Bryant's breakaway dunk with 3:29 remaining in the first quarter gave him 13 points for the game, passing Olajuwon's 26,946 career points for eighth place on the NBA's all-time scoring list.
Bryant finished the game with 38 points on 13-of-27 shooting, but the Kings won 100-95 despite coming into the game with a 4-16 road record.
"It's obviously a huge honor," Bryant, a 15-year veteran, said after Friday's loss. "I've been playing for a while and these milestones mean a lot."
Previously, Bryant had plenty of nice things to say about Olajuwon.
"I learned a great deal, obviously, just the details of the post game from him," Bryant said after Thursday's practice. "Hakeem is incredibly smart and for him to take the time and welcome me into his home and show me different things is a tribute to his greatness."
Bryant had some high praise for the former Houston Rockets center.
"In my opinion, he's the best post player ever," Bryant said. "With all due respect to [Kevin] McHale, Hakeem was phenomenal."
Lakers head coach Phil Jackson ribbed Olajuwon, who broke up the Chicago Bulls' set of three-peat championships with two titles of his own with Houston in 1994 and 1995.
"Hakeem had this move that bordered on walk or travel," Jackson said. "McHale had one, too. It's very hard to duplicate that. It was kind of a shoulder-shrug, shake-and-bake thing that he had where he'd come back in the opposite direction, but he was so quick at it. Kobe has good post-up moves. I'm sure he learned some things about posting up [from Olajuwon], but he didn't imitate Olajuwon's move."
Bryant is one of just three guards in the all-time top 10 along with Michael Jordan (third; 32,292) and Oscar Robertson (10th; 26,710).
"Typically big men have been known to kind of dominate the ball and the bigs that are on that list are obviously the all-time greats," Bryant said. "I guess there's a couple little guys that are feisty."
When asked if Jackson's triangle offense helped Bryant and Jordan climb the scoring ladder, the Hall of Fame coach said with a smile, "No, they could have done that on their own."
The next players in Bryant's path are Elvin Hayes at No. 7 (27,313), Moses Malone at No. 6 (27,409) and former teammate Shaquille O'Neal at No. 5 (28,582 and counting before Friday night's game at Phoenix). Bryant and the Lakers face off against O'Neal and the Celtics on Sunday.
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.