Bryant joins Kareem, Malone in 33,000-point club

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters

Only three players in NBA history have scored more than 33,000 career points: Karl Malone, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and, as of Thursday, Kobe Bryant.

The "Black Mamba" dropped 18 points (including an honest-to-goodness alley-oop) in the first half against the Sacramento Kings to wade into rarefied territory.

Bryant entered the game eight points back of the plateau.

It was a throwback performance for the 20-year veteran, as he was noticeably crisper after having taken the last three games off to rest a sore shoulder. He shot 10-of-18 from the floor as he dropped a smattering of daring drives, crafty passes, a few signature fadeaways, and finished with 29 points on the night.

Despite Bryant's best efforts, his team still trailed by 21 at halftime and by as many as 27 in the second half. But the Lakers made a game of it and eventually took the lead in the fourth quarter, with Kobe on the bench, before falling 118-115.

He won't be around forever, so cherish these last few moments, and celebrate the rare flashback performances. Legends like Bryant come once in a generation.