With an assist to Wayne Ellington in the fourth quarter Sunday night, LeBron James recorded his 9,888th assist, passing Oscar Robertson (9,887) for seventh on the list of assists in NBA history. It was part of another effort by James, who led the Los Angeles Lakers with 35 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in a 127-119 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.
But despite the loss, James’ fingerprints were everywhere as usual. The assist that tied James to Robertson and one that passed him showed the wide range of his passing ability. The first, which was a lob to Dwight Howard from the 3-point line, exemplified the elite vision of the pitch we’d expect from the four-time champion. While the discharge pass to Ellington wasn’t as flashy as the lob pass, it was a classic example of how James can manipulate defense to get a teammate an open look.
Next on James’ list to pass is Lakers legend Magic Johnson, who ended his career with 10,141 assists in 13 seasons in the NBA. That puts LeBron 254 assists away from passing Johnson, and if he continues to average over 6.5 assists for the remainder of the season, there’s a very good chance he can catch him before the end of the regular season.