Los Angeles Lakers point guard Steve Nash passed Mark Jackson to take sole possession of third place on the all-time list with his fifth assist in Tuesday night's game against the Houston Rockets, per ESPN's J.A. Adande:
Nash to Meeks again. Fast Break dunk. puts Steve Nash alone in 3rd place on NBA all-time assist list. Big smile from Nash.— J.A. Adande (@jadande) April 9, 2014
He set the mark with two minutes remaining in the second quarter on a fast-break pass to Jodie Meeks.
Here are clips of both the fateful assist and the crowd reaction after he was removed from the game:
Jackson played for seven different teams over a 17-year career, earning one All-Star nod (1989) and the 1987-88 Rookie of the Year award. Currently the head coach of the Golden State Warriors, he wasted no time in congratulating Nash, via his Twitter account:
Congrats to the Great @SteveNash on passing me on the All Time Assist list! I'm Honored!! God Bless #4— Mark Jackson (@MarkJackson13) April 9, 2014
While he was a fine player in his day, Jackson was never the point guard Nash was in his prime. The Canadian national is a surefire Hall of Famer.
Nash has appeared in the All-Star Game eight times during his career—twice as a Dallas Maverick and six times as a Phoenix Sun.
In Phoenix, he teamed with coach Mike D'Antoni to orchestrate some of the most potent offenses in NBA history. His career reached its zenith from 2004 to 2006, when he won back-to-back MVP awards.
How rare is it for a 6'3" point guard to win MVP? Consider this: Only four players 6'3" or shorter have won the award since its inception in 1956—Nash, Allen Iverson (2000-01), Derrick Rose (2010-11) and Bob Cousy (1956-57). Nash is the only such player to win the award more than once.
It was a bit surprising that the 40-year-old Nash played on Tuesday, given the fact that there is nothing really left to play for in Los Angeles. Nash himself believed that his coach, D'Antoni, wanted him to get the assist mark out of the way this season, per Bill Oram the Orange County Register:
"I think Mike [D’Antoni] really wants me to get this assists thing out of the way. So which now I’d really like to get out of the way too, frankly, because it’s out there in the air and everybody’s talking about it."
Jackson will likely be the last name Nash passes on the all-time assists list. Jason Kidd is No. 2 at 12,091, meaning Nash would need 1,757 more dimes to top him. Even if Nash plays one more season, he isn't coming close to that number.
That will leave No. 1 John Stockton, Kidd and Nash as the top three facilitators of all time. Those are three of the greatest floor generals in league history, and each of them has earned his place in the point-guard pantheon.
All statistics courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.