So, what exactly do you do defensively against a guy who has 30,000-plus career points?
“Just hope to keep him under 31,000 points,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks deadpanned in preparation for Friday's 8:30 p.m. contest against Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Bryant joined the 30,000-point club during a victory Wednesday night at New Orleans and stands No. 5 on the NBA all-time scoring list with 30,016 points.
As Bryant continues to climb the career charts, former and current NBA players continually are asked to rank him on the all-time list of greats.
Thunder All-Star and three-time scoring champ Kevin Durant remembers watching Michael Jordan finish his career with the Washington Wizards from 2001-03 and barely remembers the final world championship Jordan won with the Chicago Bulls in 1997-98.
“I didn't really get to see a lot of Jordan in his prime,” said Durant, who then playfully took a jab at Bryant. “But seeing Kobe, I know he's an old fart.”
Durant teamed with Bryant to win a gold medal with Team USA last summer at the Olympic Games in London.
“Since I was about 8 years old, I've watched him dominate,” Durant said of Bryant. “Every year he's been in the league, he's been a joy to watch and it was just an honor and a blessing to play on his team this summer in the Olympics. To get 30,000 points, man … it's just an unbelievable accomplishment.
“It's good to say you played in a game with a great player, probably the best player in my era that I've ever seen. It's great to have somebody to kind of aim to and look up to and just compete against on a high level. I'm looking forward to playing against him (Friday). It's going to be fun.”
Will the 24-year-old Durant — who is at 10,481 career points and counting — ever reach the 30,000-point plateau?
“Man, I hope so,” Durant said with a smile. “That'd be cool. Right now, I'm just taking it a game at a time. To see him get 30,000 — I watched the point when he got it, too — yeah, it was pretty cool.”
OK, taking it one game at a time, Durant currently trails the 34-year-old Bryant by 781 games, 27,857 minutes and 19,535 points.
“He's one of the best ever,” Brooks said. “Watching the game (against New Orleans), he's such a smart scorer. He no longer has to rely only on athleticism. He can score in so many different ways, yet he's still athletic, and that's the crazy thing. He has every shot in boos. He can shoot either hand. You don't score 30,000 points if you can't do everything, and he can do everything.”