LOS ANGELES – LeBron James loves to pass the ball.
Legend tells him that he developed his passing score as a 9-year-old playing for tops at the top of the summit in Akron, Ohio. He fed a small teammate named Sonny Spoon by rolling a rock on his way. It was the only way for the little man to control the ball without being beaten. Spoon grabbed the pass, put the ball in the hoop, and James enjoyed Spawne's result more than if it were his.
Decades later, as he climbed into the top five on the NBA all-time scoring list and made the defining play of his illustrious career with a run-block in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, his passing it remains as important as skill ever.
Now in his 17th season, James has moved from small forward to point guard. And as the Los Angeles Lakers have accumulated wins, so has James been collecting assists.
James is averaging league-leading 11.1 assists, hitting double digits in eight of his first 11 games in Los Angeles.
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"I don't know," James said recently. "That was never my goal. … Assistance has always been a favorite of mine because it allows my teammates to score. And that is what always matters to me."
Individual stats don't matter much to James these days – earlier this month he even wore a stitched embroidered hat that read "awards mean nothing" to a Dallas game – but his ability to continue to print controls on the game when it enters the mid-30's is important.
If James continues to knock buttons at this pace, he will erase the record for best assisted average for a player in his 17th season or later (John Stockton currently holds the mark with 8.7 assists per game in 2000-01).
"He will make the right play every time and deliver the ball on time, on target anywhere or almost anywhere he throws it – up to the 3-point line or the rims of the rim or the backs or whatever," said the Lakers coach Frank Vogel "He's just one of the best passers I've been with."
James' first of a dozen dimmers on Wednesday night came just seven seconds into the winning 120-94 Victory Against The Golden State Warriors, Exact Forehead Sent Beyond The 3 – Point out JaVale McGee, who is willing to deposit it in the basket.
"Playing with LeBron, he's the center of attention at all times," said Kyle Kuzma. "Everyone looks at him, so sometimes when guys come here, they're not really used to having wide-open photos, and that's something he delivers."
|Kyle Kuzma  4-4|
|] Dwight Howard||1-1|
|* including five 3-PT FG|
Not all open pictures are equal. Just as the defense is paying extra attention to James, so are the fans. When James provides an open look, it can feel as if every eye in the arena is facing the shooter.
"My rookie year was a lot of pressure," said Quinn Cook, now on his second stay with James after playing with him in Cleveland during the pre-season 2015. "I was like, 'Lele, LeBron hands me the ball. I have to do it. "But now I'm something beyond that phase. He puts us in great positions to be successful and you just want to shoot the ball with confidence."
Avery Bradley gives the impression that some of the omissions James makes are only possible because of the vision of a four-time unexpected MVP court.
"I was joking that day with one of the guys on the bench," Bradley recalls. "I said when I was watching a movie, and the coach was saying, 'You should have seen this pass …' He sees it during the game in real time. It's just incredible."
Rajon Rondo won the assistant title in the 2015-16 season, averaging 11.7 assistants with the Sacramento Kings. He says there is no real secret to winning the award.
"What is needed? Boys making shots, "Rondo said.
Rondo was inclined to rank his and James' passing ability: "It could be 1A and 1B," he said. That's how they described the acquisition of James and the Lakers, out of the Anthony Davis season.
getting the most out of Davis this season, not only giving their best chance to make money, but paving the way for the big man to re-sign the franchise as a free agent next summer.
that Davis would be the focal point of the crime o Lakers. Through the first 11 games of the Lakers Davis received 29 assists from James, according to ESPN Stats & Information, more than any other player on the Lakers.  "I told him to give me the ball. He does a great job with that, "Davis said with a laugh." He has a great vision, he can go with the best of them, so it's hard for them to stop this pickup and get me tuning and he handles the ball and then, when it's blocked, he can find our shooters on the weak side so he makes all the right plays. "
Brian Windhorst takes a deeper dive into the dynamic duo of Anthony Davis and LeBron James, who takes the Lakers to a 7-2 start.
And James is just as likely to separate
Last season, then-Lakers coach Luke Walton used a game of egalitarian transition, who grabbed a long defensive rebound or burst through a passing lane to pass a steal – be it an L ball point guard or a point guard , even Brandon Ingram, Lance Stephenson or Michael Beasley – was authorized to be the engine
However, Vogel brought the car keys back to James and wanted him to drive as much as possible.
"We created an environment where we wanted to have a primary ball handler, while last year it was LeBron , and other guys who could go out and hit the break, "Vogel said. "Most quick break teams have this type of thinking about how it is and how anyone can push, everyone can handle it. That way we went a little old-school. That's probably why you see LeBron more in this situation."
Earlier in his career, James ignited himself when he made teammates in end-of-game situations instead of calling his own number.
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Over time, these instincts have shifted; James has enjoyed being the man who carries the consequences of a proposal to make or miss. He aided six field goals in the last 10 seconds of the fourth quarter or extra (seven, including the playoffs), according to ESPN Stats & Info polls, and made nine such shots during that period (17, including the playoffs.
) Undoubtedly, if he sees an open teammate – be it George Hill under the hoop in Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals or Kentavid Caldwell-Pope on the wing in a regular game against the Orlando Magic last season – James will find him.
" He is probably one of the best decision makers in the history of the game a. "Vogel said.
The ball can go through James but play with James and you get the ball.
" I'm just trying to play in the system of what we're trying to do in the game plan, and to get my shooters and get my big opportunities, "James said." I don't get assists if my teammates don't shoot, that's what it comes down to. So they deserve all the credit. "