As the career of Miami Heat superstar LeBron James progresses, he becomes a larger and larger figure in NBA history. He's not just a young upstart trying to prove himself, but a genuine titan of the game, a player who has already made his mark on the record books despite his uncertain legacy. Every couple games, the 29-year-old is likely to hit a new milestone or achievement.
In Thursday's Game 1 of the NBA Finals vs. the San Antonio Spurs, it took James just under seven minutes to reach his latest mark. With 5:03 remaining in the first quarter, LeBron found co-star Dwyane Wade for a jumper for his first assist of the game. It was also the 1,000th assist of his playoff career, making James just the third player in NBA postseason history to reach 4,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists for his career:
With his 1st assist, LeBron has joined Kobe & MJ as only players w/ 4000+pts, 1000+rebs & 1000+asts in the postseason pic.twitter.com/qFPNCahtNU
— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) June 6, 2014
Check out the play below (along with the Tim Duncan interview that ABC aired as it happened):
Any time a player matches a mark set by only Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, he's part of an exclusive club. Additionally James achieved the mark in his 154 postseason appearance, a pace far ahead of both other members.
For comparison, Jordan ended his career with 1,022 assists in 179 games, while Bryant currently sits at 1,040 assists in 220 games. For a player who has often received criticism for not taking over playoff games, this milestone indicates how regularly LeBron controls the game. He's pretty much always the most productive player on the court.
This club is at least partially dependent on certain players' careers occurring in eras without LeBron's full exposure to a maximum of four seven-game playoff series per season, but players as great as Jerry West, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Bill Russell have failed to achieve this mark with postseason game totals near or far exceeding LeBron's present total. This achievement is not just a function of his era — he piles up stats at a rate we haven't really seen before. We should appreciate it while we still can.
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