Lakers' LeBron James Passes Gary Payton for 9th on NBA's All-Time Assist List

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistDecember 20, 2019

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) plays against the Indiana Pacers during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Indianapolis, Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James moved into sole possession of ninth place on the NBA's all-time assists list during Thursday's game against the Milwaukee Bucks.   

James passed Gary Payton with the 8,967th assist of his career in the third quarter:

Los Angeles Lakers @Lakers

More history for @KingJames, who passes the Glove on the all-time dimes list. https://t.co/poX2eQRGiP

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Bron passes Gary Payton on the all-time assists list 👑 https://t.co/OblJdUPAwQ

Per Justin Kubatko of StatMuse, James is the only player in NBA history to rank in the top 10 for both career points and career assists. 

Barring an injury, James should finish this season in third place on the all-time scoring list. He entered Thursday with 33,269 points, 374 behind Lakers legend Kobe Bryant. 

Payton needed 17 seasons to rack up his assist tally. The Glove was one of the most prolific point guards during his playing career, including a run of five straight seasons from 1999-03 in which he averaged at least 20 points and eight assists per game. 

One of the few things James has never accomplished is averaging a double-double over a full season. The closest he came was during his final season with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2017-18 when he put up 27.5 points and 9.1 assists per contest. 

Now in his 17th NBA season, James is having arguably his best year as a passer. The four-time MVP entered Thursday's game leading the league with a career-high 10.6 assists per game.