NEW YORK — John Stockton is probably safe.
LeBron James is testing the limits of the NBA’s “unbreakable” records, but even the 38-year-old can’t really imagine where he’d get the more than 5,300 assists he would need to reach the Utah Jazz legend’s career record (15,806).
“I ain’t thinking about that at all,” James laughed. “That man played, what, 19 seasons and in like 17 of them he played 82 games or some crazy stat like that? No. I’m good on that.”
Everyone else, though, should take notice.
Mark Jackson and Steve Nash were the latest to fall in James’ assault on the NBA record books, as he climbed from sixth to fourth place on the all-time assists list in just one night. James had 11 assists in a 129-123 overtime win against the Knicks, but he just needed nine to pass Nash (10,335), who is only one ahead of Jackson (10,334) on the career list.
Nash was a contemporary of James, a back-to-back league MVP during his playing days. Technically, James did play against Jackson once as a player, but he knows him better from his broadcasting and coaching career.
It didn’t escape James that he passed Jackson against the Knicks, who drafted him out of nearby St. John’s. He said he was humbled to see his name with Nash and Jackson, but also reflected on how the mark is a tribute to his teammates over the years.
“It’s amazing because that’s just what I love to do and get my guys involved,” he said. “I try to put the ball on time and on target with my guys throughout the course of my career and I’m with another great group that allows me to see the space and see the floor and I’m able to get it to them and try to get it to them with the right type of pass. But they have to make the shots and they’ve done a great job of that.”
The basketball world, of course, is gearing up for his other high-profile record chase. James moved within 89 points of passing Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. James said he hasn’t been thinking about it during games – though in the locker room, he realized that he might have accidentally sent his mother Gloria James on a birthday vacation during a stretch of games when he might actually break the record.
The world around him is starting to brim over with excitement about the record, including his teammates.
“This is a very huge accomplishment,” Anthony Davis said. “I was fortunate enough to be here when he went to second. And now to be here chasing first, I think 89 points. So the team is very excited. It’s probably going to be a surreal moment for all of us, but probably more so him.”
With three anticipated Hall of Famers on their team, there are a lot of records falling in their path. The Lakers were just one night removed from Russell Westbrook moving into 10th place on the all-time assists list, passing Gary Payton.
It will probably be some time before James passes (if he passes) No. 3: His friend, Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul, is still active and nearly 1,000 assists ahead of him.
BEVERLEY SITS OUT
Coach Darvin Ham made the call with the Lakers’ medical staff to sit 34-year-old veteran guard Patrick Beverley a night after he spent most of the night defending All-Star Kyrie Irving in their loss to the Brooklyn Nets. The Lakers have given Beverley a few nights off this year, particularly on back-to-backs, with left knee soreness, but Ham characterized it as precautionary.
“It’s normal soreness, but we’re getting to the latter stages of the season, and you just really have to be mindful of our players and their bodies,” Ham said. “And so it’s not a distinct injury or some that we’re managing, but we’re being careful.”
With his ninth assist of the night, @KingJames passes Steve Nash for 4th place on the NBA’s all-time assists list! 👑 pic.twitter.com/AtpYUVJjNN
— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) February 1, 2023
LeBron on becoming 4th all-time in career assists:
“That’s what I love to do… getting my guys involved.” pic.twitter.com/5T9R8BvXDr
— NBA (@NBA) February 1, 2023