At 34 years of age, Bryant is also the youngest player to reach that mark. Of course, that's more a factor of his entry into the league right out of high school at age 19 than anything else. He has already played more games than Michael Jordan - third on the all-time scoring list - or Wilt Chamberlain - who is fourth. Jordan played three years of college basketball and took a mid-career hiatus to try his hand at baseball; Chamberlain played two seasons at Kansas and one with the Harlem Globetrotters before making his NBA debut.
Can Kobe catch Kareem? Hard to say. He's 8,371 points behind at this point. He has averaged around 1,840 points per season to this point, and that includes his first two seasons (when he was coming off the bench) and two seasons cut short by labor strife. Assuming he continues to score at that pace, he'd probably need to play through the 2016-17 season to reach the top of the list.
There are no guarantees that he'll even try. Bryant's contract with the Lakers runs through the 2013-14 season, and he has hinted that he'll retire after that.
The top of the all-time scoring list has a heavy Los Angeles Laker influence. The NBA's all-time scoring leader, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, played 14 seasons in Los Angeles, and Karl Malone - the second-leading scorer in league history - finished his career with the Lakers. Chamberlain, Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal (6th overall) and Jerry West (15th) also played all or part of their careers in Los Angeles.
The only other active players in the top 20 all-time scoring list are Boston's Kevin Garnett and Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki.
NBA All-Time Scoring Leaders
Through games played on December 5, 2012.
Active players in bold