LeBron James continues to close in on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's all-time scoring record, but it was his movement up the NBA's all-time assists list Tuesday night that served as a great reminder of James' all-around brilliance.
With 11 assists against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden, James moved past Mark Jackson (10,334 career assists) and Steve Nash (10,335) for sole possession of fourth place on the NBA's all-time career assists list. He trails only Chris Paul (11,246 entering Tuesday), Jason Kidd (12,091) and John Stockton (15,806).
"It's amazing, because that's just what I love to do – getting my guys involved," James said after passing Nash and Jackson. "I'm happy to be linked with some of the greats, that's for sure," James later added.
While it's unlikely James – or probably anyone – will ever catch Stockton in assists, he's now just days away from passing Abdul-Jabbar, who has been the NBA's all-time leading scorer since 1984. James entered the night 116 points behind Abdul-Jabbar. With 28 points in a historic triple-double performance in the Los Angeles Lakers' 129-123 overtime victory over the Knicks, he's now just 89 points away from becoming the NBA's all-time leader.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) February 1, 2023
LeBron James scoring tracker: The race to eclipse Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's NBA points record
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“I didn’t get to this point in my career by thinking about records or how many points I have, whatever the case might be,” James said. “I just play the game the right way. I approach the game every night only trying to be a triple threat by scoring, rebounding, assisting, defending, and may the chips fall where they may.”
James, 38, has always considered his passing one of his biggest strengths – he's called himself a "pass first" player on multiple occasions over the years – but his place on the all-time assists list is still stunning when you look at his scoring output compared to everyone else around him. Jackson, now an ESPN analyst, averaged 9.6 points per game over 17 seasons. Nash, a Hall of Famer and two-time MVP who was a great 3-point shooter, averaged 14.3 points per game over 18 seasons. Hall of Famers Stockton and Kidd – the current head coach of the Dallas Mavericks – averaged 13.1 and 12.6 points per game, respectively, over 19 seasons. Paul, himself a future Hall of Famer, has averaged 18 points a game and had a few seasons where he averaged over 20 points per game early in his career.
James, however, has averaged 27.2 points and 7.3 assists per game since he broke into the NBA in 2003 as the No. 1 overall pick, and there's little evidence he's slowing down. This season, his 20th in the NBA, he's averaging 30.2 points and 7.1 assists per game.
LeBron James is the 1st player in NBA history to record a triple-double in their 20th season or later.
More history for the 👑 pic.twitter.com/nOOYHyybNg
— NBA History (@NBAHistory) February 1, 2023
It's been a big week for the Lakers and the all-time assists list. On Monday, guard Russell Westbrook moved into the top 10 by passing Gary Payton.
Contributing: Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Lakers' LeBron James moves up to No. 4 on NBA career assists list