When Kobe Bryant surpassed Michael Jordan to become the third highest scorer in NBA history, MJ had a special message for the Lakers star: “Go get Karl.”
Jordan referenced Karl Malone because he’s second on the all-time scorer’s list. Kobe added that this comment showed him something about Jordan. “The competitor never stops,” Kobe explained, according to CBS Sports.
Bryant was also quick to point out his respect for those who have influenced him, including Jordan.
“It was more of a thankful feeling to Michael and the players who came before because I’ve learned so much from them,” Kobe added. “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.”
Jordan also released a formal statement following Kobe’s record-breaking night.
“I congratulate Kobe on reaching this milestone,” Jordan said in the statement, according to ESPN. “He’s obviously a great player, with a strong work ethic and has an equally strong passion for the game of basketball. I’ve enjoyed watching his game evolve over the years, and I look forward to seeing what he accomplishes next.”
As of Friday (December 26), Kobe Bryant has 32,365 points. In order to follow Jordan’s “get Karl” advice, Bryant will need to reach Malone’s 36,928 points. Meanwhile, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sits at #1 with 38,387 points.