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Chris Paul passes Magic Johnson as NBA All-Star Game assists leader

Chris Paul #3 of Team LeBron is defended by Kyrie Irving #11 of Team Durant during the second half in the 70th NBA All-Star Game at State Farm Arena on March 07, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

What’s the significance of a few gaudy individual numbers for an NBA All-Star Game that ended with a 170-150 final score?

If you’re Phoenix Suns point guard Chris Paul, it’s in those gaudy numbers adding up over time.

Paul recorded 16 assists to go with six points and eight rebounds Sunday as his Team LeBron defeated Team Durant in Atlanta. The 11-time All-Star’s final assist pushed him into the all-time leaderboard, passing Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson’s 127 in the event.

“The way I knew how many assists I needed to break (the record) was my son,” Paul said. “My son came up to me at halftime and said, ‘Dad, you need four more assists.’

“To have him, my dad, my brother, my nephew here for it makes it that much more special. My dad is the man who introduced me to the game, the man who taught me how to be a man, the man who taught me discipline. For him to be here to see it, don’t get no better than that.”

How long Paul holds that record remains to be seen.

That’s because LeBron James is right in the chase himself.

James recorded four assists Sunday night, moving him into third place on the All-Star assist board with 98 dimes.

Paul separated himself from James with the help of fellow point guard Stephen Curry, who like Paul wanted to use the All-Star backdrop to work on his dunking skills.

Paul got his own dunk in from a pass via Curry as well.

Team LeBron’s squad executed the plan well.

As usual, defense wasn’t either team’s top priority, but Paul said the players on his squad made it a point to show up with some level of competitiveness.

Paul was the lone representative for the Suns in the 2021 All-Star event after Devin Booker pulled out days prior due to a mild knee sprain suffered Thursday against the Golden State Warriors.

Paul gave a nod to Booker by writing “‘Be legendary’ – D. Book 1” on his three pairs of shoes worn in the NBA Skills Challenge and the game itself.

That’s what the late Kobe Bryant wrote on Booker’s shoes after the Lakers guard’s final game played against the Suns. Booker has made it practice to write the quote on all his game shoes.

“Shoutout to my brother, the late Kobe Bryant,” Paul said. “I only know one way to play, and that’s to win. We kept talking about it over there. It’s a game, everybody want to stay healthy, but we want to win.”

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