LeBron about to set assist record for forwards

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Thumbnail image for nba_james1_250.jpgLeBron James can score pretty much at will, but what has always helped set him apart was how well he could pass. How he got his teammates involved despite Mike Brown’s offense.

The smart folks at The Painted Area went through the archives and found LeBron’s 8.5 assists per game this season is better than any forward in NBA history. The next best, Larry Bird at 7.6 assists per game in 1986-87. Not shockingly,  the top 15 list list is heavy on Bird, John Havlicek and Grant Hill. With the odd Scottie Pippen thrown in.

LeBron is on pace to not just break this mark, but shatter it – almost a full assist per game ahead of Larry Legend’s best single-season mark. Also, note that only one of the top nine forward assists-per-game seasons was accomplished in fewer minutes per game than James’ 39.0 so far this season (Bird, ’90-91, 38.0).

Obviously, the big catalyst in pushing LeBron’s assists up to another level has been the spate of injuries to the Cavs backcourt, most notably to point guard Mo Williams, which has increased James’ responsibilities as a distributor.

While LeBron has always carried “the next MJ” tag, he has always been more Oscar Robertson, with a little Magic Johnson thrown in. Players with incredible court vision and a sense of how to set up teammates, not just put the ball in the hole.

It’s a great state, although I’m not sure we needed more stats to tell us LeBron is special and his team is having a good year.

Players’ union, NBA to set up cardiac screening for retired players

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First it was Darryl Dawkins. Then it was Moses Malone.

Two all-time great players who recently died — and at t0o young an age, 58 and 60 respectively — from undiagnosed heart conditions. Even before that, recognizing the issue the NBA players union and the league itself were setting up supplemental health coverage to provide cardiac screening for retired players, something ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan recently broke.

The joint effort between union executive director Michele Roberts and NBA commissioner Adam Silver — at a time when there still may be potentially acrimonious labor negotiations looming for their sides — is intended to ease the health concerns of its retired players.

Roberts said action from the players’ association on providing screening for its retired players is “imminent.”

“I wish I could give you an exact timetable, but we have to make sure all the components are in place,” Roberts told ESPN recently. “I will tell you we hope to have something sooner than later.”

The Cardiologists are affiliated with the NBA already, and some of the money will come from the league, while the union is both pitching in a chunk of cash and is the one organizing this, according to the report.

It’s good to Roberts and Silver working together on this. While you’d like to think this would be the kind of no-brainer move that the league and union would work together on, in the past the relationship didn’t always facilitate this sort of cooperation even on the obvious.

I’d like to think this bodes well for future labor talks, but I’m not willing to completely draw that parallel.


Stephen Curry drops 30 on Portland in preseason (VIDEO)

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Somebody is in midseason form.

Stephen Curry put up 30 on Portland in a preseason game Thursday night, hitting six threes and getting to the line 15 times over the course of his less than 26 minutes. It was quite a show.

Portland won the game 118-101 behind 25 points from Allen Crabbe and 22 from Damian Lillard. Not a lot of defense in this one but it was fun to watch.