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In honour of John Stockton, the all-time assist king, celebrating his 58th birthday, we had a look at the best passers in NBA history. The dime-dropping playmakers who made life easier for others in ways 99.9% of players could only ever dream of.
This isn't simply rattling off the top assist leaders, although we'll admit that limiting the voting pool to just six players became a nearly impossible task.
Jason Kidd. Larry Bird. Isiah Thomas. Chris Paul. Mark Jackson. Rajon Rondo. Nikola Jokic. Those are just some of the incredibly gifted table-setters that didn't make our cut for the top six.
The results are in and Steve Nash was your pick for the best passer in NBA history. Here are the voting results!
MORE POLLS: Most clutch player in NBA history | Most underrated player since 2000
|Player||Pct. of votes|
The 5% that made up "other" showed love to some of the players that just missed the cut on our poll. Bird was written in three times. Rondo and Kidd both earned two write-in votes. Paul, Jason Williams, Arvydas Sabonis and Kyle Lowry were others that earned one write-in vote.
Here's how several members of our Global NBA.com voted.
Micah Adams ( @MicahAdams13 ): I'm going to go with LeBron James .
This is one where the numbers certainly don't support that notion. Case in point? He's about to lead the league in assists for the first time, something that John Stockton did a whopping nine times. Every other player on the ballot above did it many times too, so upon first glance it's ludicrous to suggest that James - who ranks eight in total assists and 24th in career assists per game - is the best passer in NBA history.
And yet there's not a pass he can't make. Much of his assist totals speak far more about his role than about his ability. Outside of maybe Stockton in a pick and roll or Magic Johnson on the fastbreak, is there anyone else you'd trust to consistently make the right read than James? His incredible size also allows him to see lanes that others don't and he's evolved into without question the best skip passer we've ever seen. He's the perfect playmaker for this era where spacing and shooting are at an all-time premium.
Alex Novick, NBA.com Global Editions: Give me Bob Cousy .
If for no other reason, I'm taking Cousy because no one else will, and the league's best point guard all throughout the 1950s deserves some love. The Hall of Famer might rank 20th on the career assists leaderboard, but don't let that fool you.
Cousy was the NBA's assist leader for eight straight seasons from 1952 to 1960, playing on a Boston Celtics team that wasn't exactly lighting it up with shooters. Take Cousy's lone MVP season in 1956-57, for example, when he averaged 9.3 assists while Boston shot 38.3 percent from the field as a team! Imagine how many assists Cousy would pile up surrounded by today's players, say on a team like the Jazz or Heat, who've each shot 38.3 percent from three this year?
Eras aside, Cousy's passes led to wins, as he floor-generaled the Celtics to six NBA championships alongside Bill Russell. Throw in a career scoring average of 18.4 points per game, 13 All-Star selections and 12 All-NBA nods, and you have one of the most unheralded NBA legends the game has.
Kyle Irving ( @KyleIrv_ ): We're disrespecting the birthday boy and by far the all-time assists leader. I'll take John Stockton .
15,806 assists. A record that may never be touched.
That's 3,715 (!) more assists than Jason Kidd who holds down second place. The next closest active players are Chris Paul and LeBron James who are 6,199 assists and 6,508 assists short of Stockon's record, respectively. OVER 6,000 ASSISTS SHORT.
For nine-consecutive seasons, from 1987 to 1996, Stockton led the NBA in assists. His 14.5 assists per game in 1989-90 is the highest average in league history and of the top six highest assist averages of all-time, Stockton owns five of them.
Setting an untouchable assist record is really the only argument you need though.
Gilbert McGregor ( @GMcGregor21 ): I gotta go with Earvin "Magic" Johnson.
I mean, the nickname speaks for itself.
Sure, there are four guys that dished out more assists over the course of their careers but watch this video and ask yourself this: Can anyone make some of these passes that Magic makes look effortless?
No-looks, 40-foot bounce passes with precision, full-court baseball passes and of course, a bounce pass through a defender's legs WHILE ON HIS BACK.
There's nobody that has come close to doing some of the things that Magic would do on a nightly basis.
If you want to talk numbers, Johnson averaged 11.2 assists over the course of his career, led the league in assists in four different seasons and is one of just five NBA players all-time to dish out 10,000 or more assists.
One of the most impressive stats is that he returned from a four-year absence to averaged 6.9 assists per game from the power forward position - a testament to his court vision and passing abilities.
The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.