With his 8th assist against the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night, Phoenix Suns point guard Chris Paul moved into 3rd on the NBA’s all-time assists list, passing both Mark Jackson (now 5th with 10,334 assists) and Steve Nash (now 4th with 10,335 assists).
“It means a lot and I’m grateful,” Paul said after the game. “I thank God for this opportunity, I say it all the time, not only to be on the team and still be in the league, but to be playing. You don’t take that for granted.”
Paul, now 37 years old, is still well behind Jason Kidd and John Stockton. He needs 1,745 assists to rise to 2nd all-time, which would take him another two and a half seasons at his current passing pace. He is under contract with the Suns for four years, the last two of which are mostly non-guaranteed because he will be age 39 and 40 in those years.
Chris Paul joked about how far he is behind the leader, John Stockton, who played 19 seasons in the NBA until he turned 40. To pass Stockton, Paul would need to play another 7 years.
“I looked at that list when I first came into the league and seeing that John Stockton, and I was like, ‘I’m going to get it.’,” Paul said. “That ship sailed, that ship sailed. It sailed a while ago when I started missing all those games.”
Stockton only missed 22 games in his 19-year career, while Paul has missed significant chunks of games in 8 of his 16 seasons prior to this year.
“But to be third and still be playing,” Paul said. “I’m grateful for it and I still have a ways to go.”
Paul has reached a number of milestones in the past year since joining the Suns for his 16th and now 17th seasons. In addition to rising up the all-time assists ranks, he has taken over 5th all-time in steals and has become the ONLY player in league history with both 20,000+ points and 10,000+ assists in his career.
One of the all-time best in points, assists and steals. ‘Point god ‘indeed. Last week, Paul was named by the NBA as one of the top 75 best players in the league’s 75-year history.
Paul, who leads the league in assists per game this season (career-best 11.8 following tonight), has dished 10+ assists in all but one game.
On Tuesday, Chris Paul led the Suns to a comeback victory after the Suns trailed the Pelicans by 20 points in the second quarter and by 14 late in the third quarter. He recorded his second straight double-double and fourth of the season, notching 14 points (on 6-8 shooting) and a season-high 18 assists, 7 of which came in the first quarter. Paul also added 7 rebounds in the win.
“We keep acting like this is normal,” shooting guard Devin Booker said of CP’s achievement, “We go into the locker room after, ‘oh he passed Steve Nash and Mark Jackson, game ball.’ It’s bigger than that, man, it really is. Obviously I knew he was going to be close coming in today, but he passed it by a lot.”
Paul’s young teammates are thrilled to be so close to the action of a player like Chris Paul.
“I’m just happy to be a part of it,” Booker said. “Being a fan and just inspired by it honestly. I’ve been a fan for a really long time, so it’s really fun to see and it’s really fun to be a part of it. A long time from now I’ll be able to say that I played with Chris Paul.”
“It’s cool to witness it and be a part of it.” said swingman Mikal Bridges. “Like I say all the time, it’s cool to play with CP, but I’m happy that he became one of my close friends and I don’t take that for granted.”