On April 8, 2014, Steve Nash handed out five assists in yet another forgettable Lakers loss.
But Nash’s last two assists were memorable as he passed Mark Jackson for third on the NBA’s all-time assists list.
Here are the NBA’s top five career assists leaders.
#1) John Stockton – 15,086 Assists
In 19 seasons with the Utah Jazz, John Stockton established himself as the most dominant assist man in the league’s history. Stockton led the NBA in assists per game for nine straight seasons between 1987-88 and 1995-96.
His career 10.5 assists per game is second in NBA history, but sustaining that greatness for nearly two decades has put a vast gulf of nearly 3,000 assists between Stockton and Jason Kidd, the next person on the career assists list. Stockton is also the NBA’s all-time steals leader and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009.
#2) Jason Kidd – 12,091 Assists
Like Stockton, Jason Kidd played 19 NBA seasons. Kidd led the league in assists five times. The 6’4″ guard won the 1994-1995 Rookie of the Year after averaging 7.7 assists per game and only improved from there.
Kidd put up a career best and league leading 10.8 assists in his fifth season in 1998-99. But Kidd also sustained his greatness, averaging 10.1 assists in his 14th season in the league.
#3) Steve Nash – 10,335 Assists (as of 4/10/2014)
The 2013-14 season is Nash’s 18th in the league. The first four seasons of Nash’s career are forgettable, never averaging more than 9.1 points or 5.5 assists. His last two years with the Lakers have also not amounted to much as he has struggled with injuries and organizational dysfunction.
But in all of the years in between, Steve Nash was perhaps the NBAs best point guard. He led the NBA in assists five times and won the league’s MVP award in both 2005 and 2006.
#4) Mark Jackson – 10,334 Assists
Mark Jackson bounced around during his 17-year career, donning the jerseys of eight different teams. Jackson was more of a consistent, steadying offensive influence than a dominant individual player.
Jackson averaged double figures in scoring just six times in his career and only eclipsed 10 assists per game once, when his 11.4 assists per game in 1996-97 led the NBA. Jackson was the Rookie of the Year in 1987-88 and made the All-Star team in 1989.
#5) Magic Johnson – 10,141 Assists
Magic played just 12 full seasons in his prime before retiring at age 32 after testing positive for HIV. He returned five years later to play in 32 games during the 1995-96 season. Johnson led the league in assists four times in a five-year span between 1982-83 and 1986-87.
Magic’s career average of 11.2 assists per game is the best in NBA history. His career averages of 19.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, 11.2 assists, 1.9 steals, and 52.0% FG are simply mind blowing. Throw in his five NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers, three Finals MVPs, three league MVPs, and Hall of Fame status, and it is easy to understand why Magic is considered among the best players in NBA history.