Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James recorded his assist No. 9,000 of his Hall of Fame career in the first half of Sunday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks. James passed Gary Payton for 9th all-time on the assists list; he is also the eighth-player in NBA history to go over the 9k mark.
However, James would struggle from the field in this game, shooting just 3-10, but was active in other ways. This included finding his teammates while dishing out 13 assists on the night.
Mark Jackson, who was calling the game for ESPN, is currently fourth all-time on the assists list. Jackson revealed that he feels LeBron James will be the all-time leading scorer and a top-five assist man in the history of the game.
“Think about it, if you told LeBron James that he is going to have more assist than Gary Payton and he is going to be combing those names. He would be like you’re crazy, and if you told him, he would be all-time great players,” said Jackson.
“He would say sure, but that’s ridiculous for a small forward to have those types of numbers. He will be the all-time leading scorer when it is all said and done, in my opinion, and a top-five assists man in the history of the game.”
Dave Pasch, who was calling the game as well, asked Jackson if he thought LeBron James will play long enough to pass Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar]?
“I absolutely play long enough. [LeBron James] ideal goal, which will be his number one goal in his basketball career, is to play on the same court as his Bronny [LeBron James Jr]. He stated that, and he is going to hang around that long, and Bronny is off to a bright start. So, what else can you ask for,” Jackson said.
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Scottie Pippen Weighs in on LeBron James
During the ESPN halftime broadcast, Scottie Pippen discussed LeBron James coming off a back to back against the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night.
“I think he has been great. We know he is in his 17th season, so you don’t expect LeBron [James] to have that energy night in and night out,” said Pippen. “But he has been a great facilitator tonight. He is moving the basketball, throwing the ball up the floor, and getting guys involved. That’s what you expect from him after a back to back game. He’s not going to have the energy level, but he can see the floor and make plays for other guys.”
The King would finish the game with 13 points, six rebounds, and 13 assists as the Lakers were victorious against the Mavericks. With the win, they improved their Western Conference-leading record to 26-7.
After the game, Ben Golliver of The Washington Post, tweeted a video of James answering a question on the value of passing after hitting 9,000 assists against the Mavericks.
“When I was a little kid, I was somewhat better than some of my teammates. [My coach] said it’s a much greater reward for you to get your teammates who can’t dribble or score for themselves an open look.”