Kobe Bryant said Michael Jordan encouraged Bryant to try to pass Karl Malone on the NBA's all-time scoring list.
"'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."
In an official statement, Jordan said the following:
“I congratulate Kobe on reaching this milestone," Jordan said. "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.”
Bryant has scored 32,365 points, nearly 4,600 behind Malone, a 14-time All-Star power forward.
Over 27 games this season, Bryant has averaged 24.6 points on a career-low 37.2 percent shooting. The 36-year-old has sat out the last two games to rest.