Accolades pour in for Lakers' Bryant

Fri Dec 19, 2014 6:56pm EST
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant has often been a polarizing figure during his illustrious NBA career, criticized by some for being too selfish and not doing enough as a facilitator for his team mates.

For his peers, however, Bryant is simply a winner and will do whatever it takes to instill a winning mindset, even though this season has been especially challenging for an injury-hit team decidedly low in overall quality.

While the Lakers have stuttered to a dismal 8-17 record and languish 13th in the 15-team Western Conference standings, Bryant has flourished and averages 25.2 points, five rebounds and 4.8 assists per game.

Five days ago against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Bryant eclipsed basketball great Michael Jordan as he moved into third place in the all-time NBA scoring list and the accolades have since poured in from all quarters.

Reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Kevin Durant described Bryant as a quintessential winner and 12-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki rated the veteran Lakers guard as "probably" the greatest player of his generation.

"It means everything because those are my peers so to have the respect from them is really what the game is all about," Bryant, 36, told reporters while preparing for Friday's home game against Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

"As players, we play for each other. We play to have respect from one another so to hear those comments from your peers, it means a lot."

Bryant, who has made a living by making the seemingly impossible possible for the Lakers, scored 26 points against Minnesota to lift his career total to 32,310. Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387) and Karl Malone (36,928) are ahead of him.   Continued...

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) reacts during the game against Indiana Pacers forward Solomon Hill (44) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana Pacers defeat the Los Angeles Lakers 110-91. Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports