LeBron James is chasing former Knicks PG Mark Jackson in his MSG return in 3 years
LeBron James is now expected to play the New York Knicks on Tuesday night and return to Madison Square Garden in three years.
James is listed as questionable but will play loud ESPN’s Lakers beat writer Dave McMenaminafter enduring Monday night’s 121-104 loss in Brooklyn with a left foot pain.
James is highly unlikely to score 117 points to break Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time league record. But he’s close to breaking into the top 5 all-time assists leaders in the NBA.
James (10,327) is seven assists away from No. 1. 5, former Knicks point guard Mark Jackson (10,334) and eight behind No. 4 Steve Nash (10,335).
James is averaging 7.1 assists this season and has logged 11 and 8 in his last two games.
New York coach Tom Thibodeau, who spent time with James as an assistant coach at Team USA, mused on the 38-year-old superstar’s longevity.
“Whatever rule changes come, he adapts to them. And that’s what makes him what he is,” Thibodeau said after Monday’s training session. “He’s grown up and I think all these guys have benefited from watching Michael [Jordan]. But not only Michael, he has seen all the greats.
“For me there is a lot of Michael in him and a lot of magic [Johnson] in him… and there he is. They hate comparing players and all that and I still don’t think you can really measure him until he’s done. But to do it at that age and in the way he’s been taking care of himself, that’s a remarkable achievement.”
James invests millions of dollars in taking care of his body.
In his 20th season, he’s still among the top players in the league, averaging nearly a triple-double (30.2 points, 8.5 rebounds and 7.1 assists while shooting 50.7 percent from the field ).
Tuesday night’s visit will be James’ first game at Madison Square Garden since 21 points, 6 rebounds, five assists and five steals in a 100-92 Lakers win on Jan. 22, 2020.
The Lakers superstar missed the 2020 trip with a groin injury while he was suspended for a game last season for “recklessly punching Detroit Pistons center Isaiah Stewart in the face and initiating an altercation on the court.”
James had some of the biggest moments of his career in the world-famous arena, such as losing a 32-point triple-double in his first win at Madison Square Garden as a member of the Miami Heat after avoiding the Knicks in 2010 had agency.
But he also experienced low points, like when former Knicks forward Mario Hezonja blocked James’ shot at the buzzer to deliver an exciting 124-123 Knicks win in 2019.
If history beckons, will James return triumphant or will the Knicks thwart him on what could be a historic night.