This isn't exactly a secret, even if 76ers coach Maurice Cheeks good-naturedly hoped it might be:
The Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant enters tonight's game against the Sixers needing 39 points to reach 20,000.
"Just don't tell him," Cheeks said, laughing after practice yesterday. "Just remind him he has several games after our game."
Bryant, the former Lower Merion High star, had 21 in a loss to Cleveland Cavaliers last night, bringing his total to 19,961. The Denver Nuggets' Allen Iverson and the Miami Heat's Shaquille O'Neal are the only current NBA players to have surpassed 20,000. Guard Gary Payton, who has not announced his retirement but who has not signed for this season, also reached that plateau.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the all-time leader at 38,387.
The Sixers' strategy likely will involve Andre Iguodala and Willie Green sharing time defending Bryant. Asked what it takes to stop him, Iguodala impishly replied, "Lock him in his room."