Lakers: Does LeBron James Want To Play Long Enough To Beat All-Time Assist Record?
James just vaulted into the all-time top four.
During a 129-121 overtime road victory over the New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers All-NBA power forward LeBron James leapt into the NBA’s list of its all-time top four regular season assist leaders, passing former (brief) Laker Steve Nash and Mark Jackson. James now has 10,338 assists for his career after finishing the New York game with 11 (oh, and 28 points and 10 rebounds for good measure).
Speaking to gathered reporters after the Midtown showdown, the 19-time All-Star proved diplomatically reverent towards the two players he just surpassed — and the all-time assist leader, who may be impossible to match, even for King James.
“It’s amazing because that’s just what I love to do: get my guys involved, trying 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… with the right type of pass but they have to make the shots. They’ve done a great job of that, not only this season but over the course of my career, so that’s pretty cool.
“Any time you’re linked with some of the greats — Mark Jackson played here, was drafted here by the Knicks — [it’s a] super cool thing. And obviously we obviously we know what Nash was, I played against him for many, many years, and his ability to pass the ball was very uncanny.”
James, who as you’ll recall is currently in his 20th season, was asked if he’s considered playing long enough to surpass the top all-time assists leader, Hall of Fame Utah Jazz point guard John Stockton, whose 15,806 career regular season dimes put him 3,715 assists ahead of his closest competitor, former Lakers assistant coach Jason Kidd, who had 12,091 career dishes.
“Nah, man, I ain’t thinking about that at all,” James chuckled. “I mean that man played like, what, 19 seasons — 17 of them he played 82 games or some crazy stat like that? Nah I’m good on that. But I’m happy to be linked with some of the greats, that’s for sure.”
He’s pretty close, Stockton played in all 82 games for 16 of his 19 NBA seasons. However, he also played in all 50 games of the league’s 1998-1999 lockout shortened season, to his credit.
James is currently 5,468 assists behind Stockton. He has missed an average of 21 games in his first four LA seasons (and has already missed 12 games a bit over halfway through year five).
Let’s assume he keeps averaging his current season tally of 7.1 assists a night for the rest of his career, while continuing to sit for 21 games per season. He’d be averaging 433.1 assists a season in that scenario, which means he would need to keep playing for… 12.6 more seasons to catch Stockton. Even if he were to play through the age of 50, there’s no way his body would hold up enough for him to maintain the health and output he’s able to give LA this year. It ain’t happening, folks.