He currently ranks 10th with 8,879 assists, but he will soon surpass Gary Payton (8,966), Isiah Thomas (9,061) and perhaps even Chris Paul (9,290) this season. Assuming he maintains his season average of 11 per game, James should top Payton and Thomas at some point in the middle of this season. Paul, who is currently with the Oklahoma City Thunder in his 15th season, has stayed healthy and productive thus far. Considering Paul’s extensive injury history though, James could make up enough ground to climb ahead of his close friend either late this season or early next season. James should also eclipse Oscar Robertson (9,887 assists) next season and Magic Johnson (10,141), Mark Jackson (10,334) and Steve Nash (10,335) in two years. It seems like a stretch James could surpass Jason Kidd (12,091) and John Stockton (15,806). “I’ve been fortunate to be able to play with great teammates and great coaches in three great organizations so far in my career,” James said. “I just hope I make anyone who has followed my career proud.”
Do you remember key moments in the NBA where you met idols and were proud of how far you’d come? Nowitzki: Yeah, the first game was in Seattle against Detlef Schrempf, who I was a huge fan of. He gave me his number right away, if I needed something. But the biggest “wow” moment was the fourth game, when we played Houston. With Scottie Pippen and Charles Barkley, they had two of my biggest idols on their team. Hakeem Olajuwon was there as well. One year earlier, I played for Wurzburg in the second German division — now I was there with the best players in the world. I wasn’t sure I belonged there, if I would make it. The first year was brutal in that regard.
“The day of the trade at 12 noon the deal was off,” Rivers said. “I was at home in Malibu and Lawrence called me and told me, ‘It looks like he’s either going to Toronto or the Lakers.’ The Lakers part just threw me over. I told him that can’t happen. … I remember I kept telling him, ‘We cannot allow that to happen!’ “I actually told Steve jokingly that if that happens, we’re moving the team to Seattle. It was a joke, but I was actually serious about it. I really believed that.”
Isaiah describes the Tacoma basketball scene as “gritty” and “competitive,” and it is. Still, the Sonics’ departure in 2008 left an unmistakable hole in the culture. “It hurt the city in a big way, just because the Sonics were a big part of the community,” he laments. “Basketball was a big part of what was going on in the Tacoma-Seattle area. I think it hit big, and then now it’s just, like, forgotten. Not for the most part, but it’s just the norm that we don’t have a team.”