With a foul-line jumper in the second quarter of the Los Angeles Lakers' game against the Sacramento Kings on March 30, Kobe Bryant moved his career point total to 31,421 and took sole possession of fourth place on the NBA's all-time scoring list from legendary center Wilt Chamberlain.
And the acknowledgements poured in immediately:
On the night, Bryant's Lakers pulled out a 103-98 win over the Kings, thanks in large part to the all-around game of No. 24. Bryant finished with 19 points, a career-high tying 14 assists and nine rebounds.
The win helped L.A. keep pace with the streaking Utah Jazz, who won their fourth in a row and retained a tiebreaker over the Lakers, despite the teams' identical 38-36 records.
After the game, Kobe shared a photo of the game ball and game shoes, shoes that had just seen 48 minutes of gritty, bone-spur defying action.
At age 34, Bryant now trails only Michael Jordan (32,292), Karl Malone (36,928) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387) on the league's list of top scorers.
If he continues to pile up points at his career average of 25.5 points per game, Bryant will catch Jordan early in the 2013-14 season.
The Mailman's advantage, currently sitting at over 5,000 points, figures to shrink at a pace of somewhere around 2,100 points per season (if Bryant continues to score at a relatively similar rate).
That means it'll be at least another two years before No. 24 takes over second place on one of the NBA's most illustrious individual lists.
Abdul-Jabbar's 38,387 points are not completely out of reach for Bryant, who'd need to play at least four more highly productive seasons to approach the No. 1 spot on the all-time scoring list.
Assuming a regression in his scoring prowess as he enters his mid and late 30s, Bryant could conceivably hang on long enough to make a run at Abdul-Jabbar.
Over the course of the season, Bryant has given a few different indications as to how long he'll continue playing. After saying he'd like to keep hitting the hardwood until his 40th birthday, Bryant then told ABC's Jimmy Kimmel that he'd be hanging up his eponymous shoes "soon."
Bryant's achievement is remarkable, so it's a little unfair to immediately turn an eye toward the future without appreciating the present.
Love him or hate him, Bryant's credentials are undeniably great. As his career enters its twilight, they're now becoming historic.