LeBron James moves up to fourth on the all-time assist list, overtaking Mark Jackson and Steve Nash

NEW YORK — LeBron James is now fourth in NBA history in assists, passing Mark Jackson and Steve Nash in Tuesday’s Lakers game against the Knicks. Here’s what you need to know:

  • James, 38, is the only player in the all-time top 5 in points and assists. He needed eight assists to pass Jackson (10,334) and nine to pass Nash (10,335), which he accomplished in the fourth quarter.
  • James hit Thomas Bryant for a layup (and a foul shot) at 4:01 in the third quarter to tie Jackson for fifth. At 10:06 in the fourth, he cornered Troy Brown for a 3 to pass Jackson. The next time, he gave one to Bryant for a dunk, leaving 9:37 to pass Nash.
  • John Stockton is the all-time leader in the NBA with 15,806 assists. Jason Kidd is second with 12,091 while Chris Paul (11,246 assists) is third. Paul is the only active player ahead of James; Paul’s Phoenix Suns were off Tuesday.
  • LeBron remains second in scoring in league history. He went into Tuesday’s game just 117 points behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

The Athletics Instant Analysis:

More than just a goalscorer

James is still chasing Kareem, but in the meantime he’s hit another absurd, lofty milestone in a statistical category he’s more passionate about anyway. For someone just days away from becoming the game’s all-time leading scorer – in a sport that’s all about putting the ball in the bucket – LeBron has nevertheless insisted throughout his 20 pro seasons that he is not a “goal scorer”. It’s a silly concept, but climbing into the top 5 in NBA history for assists lends a little weight to his argument.

LeBron has never averaged less than 5.9 assists per game (his average is his rookie) season and in 2019-20, when the Lakers played him all season as a point guard, he led the NBA with 10.2 assists per game . This year, with his pursuit of Abdul-Jabbar in full swing and Anthony Davis absent through most of the season through injury, James still came into the game averaging 7.1 assists to go with his 30.1 points.

He has been considered one of the best pure passers in league history for years. At 6-8 and with an impeccable view of the court, not to mention a willingness to move the ball, LeBron has had a career of passing doubles teams, driving and kicking at open teammates, and skipping passes from one side of the court that others have thrown at, and just finding shooters who didn’t know they were open until the ball somehow hit their hands. – Wardon

Memories at MSG

LeBron has always loved playing at Madison Square Garden and circumstances had kept him from stepping onto the NBA’s biggest stage since January 22, 2020. He was injured for the Lakers’ trip here in 2021 and was suspended for the game last season.

So you almost knew he was going to do something special. In 28 previous regular season games at MSG, LeBron averaged 28.1 points and won 20 of the games. He was a 50 percent shooter from the field and a nearly 40 percent tosser from 3-point range. More than the numbers, however, there’s always a mood when the proverbial “face of the NBA” comes through the league’s most famous arena in New York City, where LeBron is often spotted on a billboard or two.

One of my all-time favorite LeBron quotes was uttered here during a morning shootout a few years ago before a game here while he was dating Cleveland. He said, “It’s a Friday night in New York City, what more could you ask for?” – Wardon

How high could he climb?

Paul is still playing, although at the age of 37 and with mounting lower leg injuries, his time on an NBA court may be short.

James, meanwhile, has suggested he intends to play past 40. Assuming he does — give him what, three more seasons after this one, maybe four — James would have to average about 439 assists each year to catch Kidd. Eventually, James will slow down as a goalscorer and those assists will go up. It seems far-fetched to think he has another 4,000 assists to catch Stockton, but if it’s over for LeBron, he could actually be the all-time leading scorer and second-best passer in the game. – Wardon

required reading

(Photo: Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

https://theathletic.com/4144754/2023/01/31/lebron-james-nba-most-assists-all-time/ LeBron James moves up to fourth on the all-time assist list, overtaking Mark Jackson and Steve Nash

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