Kobe Bryant youngest, but not fastest NBA player to 30,000 points

At 34 years old, Kobe Bryant became the youngest player to the 30,000 point plateau after scoring 29 points against the New Orleans Hornets Wednesday night.

Related: LeBron James youngest, not fastest to 30,000

As of this post, Kobe’s milestone puts him in a very elite club that included just four players previously: Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Karl Malone, and Michael Jordan.

At 34 years and 104 days, Bryant beat out Wilt Chamberlain by 440 days (1 year, 75 days) to become the youngest player to ever accomplish this feat. Wilt was 35 years and 179 days old when he reached 30,000 points.

Discuss Kobe’s scoring milestone in our forum

In third place, Karl Malone needed 36 years and 189 days to get to 30,000 points. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar took 28 more days than the Mailman to score his 30,000th point (36 years, 217 days), and Michael Jordan, then with the Washington Wizards, was nearly 39 years old (38 years, 321 days) when he recorded his 30,000th point.

All this hoolpa surrounding this youngest-to-30,000-points-record has left me confused. It’s a nice-sounding milestone, and great for the NBA to further push Kobe Bryant, but what does it mean? Not every player enters the NBA at the same age and circumstances can relegate age-related records like this to nothing more than a fun fact.

Take, for example, Michael Jordan. Most everyone knows that Michael Jordan retired at 29 years old; in the prime of his career; after the 92-93 season. He basically took two full regular seasons off to find out that he missed basketball. He came back, won three more championships and took another break; this time retiring after his sixth championship. That time, he was gone for another three full seasons before making his second comeback, this time with the Washington Wizards, at the age of 38. All in all, Jordan was gone from the NBA for five seasons.

So then, what does this whole “youngest to score 30,000” actually mean?

The answer is nothing. Kobe benefited from being able to enter the NBA at age 18. Jordan was a 21 year old rookie. Karl Malone and Kareem were 22, Wilt Chamberlain was 23, roughly 5 years older than Bryant. So, it’s really just a title with no basis for real comparisons.

As my post argued five years ago, when Kobe reached 20,000, I don’t want anyone thinking that youngest equals the fastest to 30,000 points.

‘Games Played’ to Determine Fastest to 30,000 Points

Let’s work with real comparisons and look at games played to determine who really was the quickest to 30,000 point. By looking at the games-played as our measure – Kobe is actually #5. The list of the fastest to 30,000 points is Wilt, Jordan, Kareem, Karl Malone and then Kobe Bryant.

Not a shocker that Wilt Chamberlain tops the list with his otherworldly scoring averages; the Stilt achieved 30,000 points in only 941 games at a 31.3 point clip (at that point in his career).

Player Games PPG at 30K
Wilt Chamberlain 941 31.9
Michael Jordan 960 31.3
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 1101 27.4
Karl Malone 1152 26.0
Kobe Bryant 1180 25.4
Dirk Nowitzki 1377 21.8

Related: List of NBA Players to Score 20,000 Points, LOL: Dirk “slowest” to 30,000 points

Mr. Michael Jordan came next, needing just 19 more games to reach 30,000 than Wilt. With a 31.3 career scoring average at that point, Jordan achieved his feat as a member of the Washington Wizards in his 960th game. Coincidentally, that game was against the Chicago Bulls, the team that he won six championships with. And as ESPN pointed out, Jordan needed roughly 7,000 less minutes than Kobe to get to that mark.

At 27.3 points per game, Kareem needed 15 seasons and 1101 games to get to 30,000 points. That’s thousands and thousands of sky hooks, and nearly a full season less than Kobe (79 less games).

The Mailman delivered his 30,000th point against the Minnesota Timberwolves – his 1152nd game. His per game scoring average going into that game? 26 points per game, good for fourth in this comparison.

Rounding out the list comes Mr. Bryant, who needed 28 more games than Karl Malone to reach the 30,000 point mark (1180 games played). Going into last night’s game, Bryant’s scoring average sat at 25.4 ppg.

I’m not demeaning Bryant’s talent. Clearly, the man can put the ball in the hoop, but with all these headlines talking about “youngest,” let’s not confuse Kobe’s “youngest to 30,000 points” with “fastest” or the most prolific.

Fastest NBA Players to 20,000 points (by games)


  • Amen

  • You’re clearly a Kobe hater.

    Please do not mention that Wilt, Kareem, MJ, and the Mail Man were all first options on their teams from (basically) day 1. Kobe was a teenager who joined a roster which had one of, if not, the most dominating player that ever played the game.

    Sorry for interrupting your hate.

  • I am a Kobe fan because he is the closet to Michael Jordan however he is still not Michael Jordan dont get it twisted Michael walked away from the game and came back twice still do to it in 960 games. Regardless of Kobe being the first option or not if he didnt have Shaq in his early years he wouldn’t have 5 rings he would have 2 maybe 3. Once again I am a Kobe fan I dont even buy Jordans anymore I buy all Kobes cheaper and more comfortable. I grew up idolizing MJ I am 35 so I have seen both in their prime but Kobe will never be better than MJ understand MJ is the GOAT (greatest of all time).

  • Hey Jason, the one who says that the writer is a Kobe hater. Clearly he is just stating facts. Why are you so hurt about him clearing the air. He is the youngest, but clearly as you can see not the fastest. Let it be, no matter what he is still in an elite class. But he ain’t no MJ no matter how many points he scores in his career. MJ is 6-0 in Finals Appearance. End of Comparisons right there.

  • This accomplishment has nothing to do with Kobe being greater than anyone. I have not heard one person make a claim that this makes him the greatest player ever.

    When you try to write off such an accomplishment shows that you’re a hater. Just look how both of you turned this into a Kobe vs MJ debate. You guys clearly are MJ worshippers.

    So for interrupting your hate-fest once again.

  • Btw, If you want to say Kobe wouldn’t have won rings without Shaq, just be sure to acknowledge Shaq didn’t win rings until Kobe became Kobe.

    MJ didn’t win rings without Scottie.

  • How many 3s?

  • What has been provided are numbers. Facts.

    Youngest to 30,000 means nothing below the surface. It’s a nice headline (go ahead, search for Kobe Bryant on Google News) and that’s it. With all this talk of “youngest” I wanted to do an apples-to-apples comparison, something that we can gauge where each player has the same starting point. There are too many caveats when talking about the “youngest to X” type records.

  • @Jason: Even if you’d point out that he was not a starter in the first part of his career the guy already played 1032 games as starter, if you minus the points he scored as a “bench” player it would take out about 1700 of his points out. At his current pace it will take him at least 68 more games to fill that up.

  • Even though he’s the slowest to reach 30k milestone according to the number of games played, but according to the TOTAL AMOUNT OF MINUTES PLAYED IN THE GAMES, Kobe is the second fastest. GO LOOK IT UP.

  • who cares how many games kobe played with shaq so he didnt take as many shots…the real question is how many games between 20000 & 30000

  • Basketball Fan

    Who cares, LeBron will end up passing Kobe one day 😉

  • emanice820

    28 years and 17 days lebron james will be the youngest at 20k career points plus 5 years 30k points erase the record of kb. 33 years for lj will be the youngest.

  • @Adrian

    That is still a big deal. That would put him at 3rd in this list of whose the fastest.

    And btw this topic is extremely knit-picky

    I don’t understand whenever something good happens to bryant a insult like this has to come with it.

    And yes this is an insult. The man scored 30,000 points but you degrade it with a post like this

  • So much buthurt in the air. Who actually cares about Kobe being the youngest everyone knows that LBJ is on his way shattering all of Kobe’s scoring records. Don’t you dare say it’s not true, statistics don’t lie. LBJ youngest to reach the 20k club, and is going to start his own 40k club

  • Look at the statistic of both Kobe and MJ. It is clear that Kobe is so far away from MJ’s skill. MJ had over .500 FG percentage six times. Kobe never exceed .470 in his career even MJ has exceed Kobe’s highest FG percentage NINE seasons. About defense, MJ has 2’s steals season 10 times comparing to Kobe’s only one time in 2’s steal. MJ has 8 assists and 8 rebounds while he average 32 point. Come on. Kobe will never be as good as MJ.

  • Wilt is the greatest.
    Then there is everybody else!

  • love kobe to death first off. laker fan through and through. however, to be honest he lived at the foul line earlier in his career due to his patented pump fake. if your a laker fan you’ll take it all day long. if your the opposition it frustrates you. if your a ref or the rest of the world it bores you. not the most impressive way to the 30,000 points. in the long run everyone knows M.J. is the best player to ever lace em up.

  • Wilt is the GOAT period! Then comes MJ then everybody else. LeBron will surpass MJ once he retires I’m sure about that, but I’m not so sure about Wilt.

  • It’s really pathetic how people turn this into an argument it just makes me laugh at you silly people.. it goes both ways.. kobe scored 81 in a game, incredible.. Mj has 6 rings and did most of the work himself even though he had a great player in scottie pollen beside him.. if mj didn’t play in chicago they wouldn’t have won those six.. this guy is stating a simple fact about how age is blown up, I.e. youngest to 20g or 30g.. blah blah.. I want to know how many games it took.. if u look at chi when mj joined and la when kobe joined the teams were kind of similar.. mj got to start because he earned it, he was a star in college.. kobe straight from HS.. if Mj played those 5 seasons with chicago then he would have his own 40g club n this wouldn’t even be up for debate… This closes the argument.. 30.1 ppg in his career.. kobe drifting down below 25.. it took kareem 20 yrs to get 38383 or whatever it was.. Mj scored 32+ thousand in less than 1000 games… What is left to talk about.. oh and as for wilt.. if shaq played back then (being the same height as wilt 7’1) he wouldve dominated even more.. the average height of 4s n 5s was not what it is today..

    Side note: i love both kobe n wilt.. wilt still holds the most prolific records in the nba today.. n kobe is just kobe, fierce competitor, great shooter n all around great player.. lets just not let a mans age determine if he was the fastest to any number of anything..

  • Kobe was never first option until Shaq’s last year with the Lakers 03/04 unlike all the other greats you have mentioned. The record states Kobe played 1180 games to get to 30k. But for the first 7 years of his career he was second fiddle. So that’s akin to around 400 games of giving it up to Shaq first.

  • Tyler Williams

    Time to add Dirk to the list.

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