This Day in Laker History: December 23rd

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Now with basketball back in action, Laker Nation has decided to continue to take you back through Laker history to recap important games, record-breaking performances and memorable news from the past 64 years of the franchise.

DECEMBER 23, 2007
LA LAKERS 95 – NEW YORK KNICKS 90
BRYANT’S 39 LEADS LAKERS OVER KNICKS, MOVES BRYANT INTO 20K CLUB

Kobe Bryant is no stranger to scoring points, especially at Madison Square Garden. Against the dysfunctional Knicks in 2007, Bryant’s game-high 39 points would net him a special achievement, as it would edge him past 20,000 points for his career.

What made Bryant’s 20,000 points even more special was that  no other NBA player had done it at a younger age; at only 29 years and four months, Bryant became the youngest player in NBA history to break 20,000 points. Now, that’s not to say that he was the quickest to 20,000 points – Wilt Chamberlain did it in a staggering 499 games and Michael Jordan did it in 620, whereas Bryant did it in a comparatively human 811 games, averaging 24.7 points per game.

A three-point basket from Bryant in the third quarter would push the Lakers to a 70-45 lead over the Knicks, whose fans at that point had become more than fed up with their polarizing coach Isiah Thomas as they began chants of “Fire Isiah”. Whether the chants would fire up Isiah’s squad is unclear, but their ensuing rally across two quarters would leave the Knicks down by three with only 2.8 seconds left to play. When Jordan Farmar would steal an in-bounds pass from David Lee and follow with a dunk, the Lakers would secure the 95-90 victory, and Bryant’s career milestone would be accompanied with a victory.

Quote of the Night: “I always like playing here, period. Last year, I didn’t have an opportunity to play and I was upset about it.” – Laker guard Kobe Bryant on his 39-point performance against the Knicks. Bryant’s 39 points moved him past the 20,000 mark for his career, making him the youngest in NBA history to achieve the feat. - From the LA Times, Dec. 24, 2007

James Cypert is a news and feature writer for LakerNation.com. When he's not perfecting his ill-advised Kareem-style sky-hook, you can find him on Laker Nation or follow him on Twitter.