LeBron James: First-Ballot Hall of Famer if He Retired Today?

Gordon TrueCorrespondent IAugust 13, 2010

MIAMI - JULY 09:  LeBron James #6, of the Miami Heat smiles during a press conference after a welcome party at American Airlines Arena on July 9, 2010 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Doug Benc/Getty Images

The new class of Hall of Famers will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame today.

That got me thinking about LeBron James and his status among the greats.

Suppose for a second that LeBron James retired today (a move that would shock the world and go down as the most famous retirement of all time).

Would LeBron James be a first-ballot Hall of Famer?

Would he even be a Hall of Famer?

At first thought, I wasn't so sure. He hasn't won a title or even been competitive in an NBA Finals.

But as I started to do my research, I was able to put my head back on straight and realize that the answer is easy.

Yes, LeBron James is a first-ballot Hall of Famer right now.

We are so used to talking about LeBron's resume in terms of where he stands compared to Kobe or Michael, that we have come to hold him to a ridiculous standard.

Yes, of course, he will need at least a few rings before he can approach the legacy that Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan have built. 

But the standards for being a Hall of Famer, even a first-balloter, are nowhere near the requirements necessary to be uttered in the same breath as Michael Jordan.

So let's go over LeBron James' resume, shall we?



  • Naismith Prep Player of the Year in 2003
  • NBA Rookie of the Year and All-Rookie First team in 2004
  • Six-Time NBA All-Star (2005-10)
  • Two-Time NBA All-Star Game MVP (2006, 2008)
  • Four-Time All-NBA First Team (2006, 2008-10)
  • NBA Scoring Champion in 2008
  • Olympic Gold Medal with Team USA in 2008
  • Two-Time All-Defensive First Team (2009-10)
  • Two-Time NBA Most Valuable Player (2009-10)


  • One of just three players in NBA History to average at least 30 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists in a season. (Oscar Robertson and Michael Jordan)
  • One of just two players in NBA History to average at least 27 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists for six consecutive seasons. (Oscar Robertson)
  • One of just four players in NBA History to have a career average of at least 25 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists (Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, and Michael Jordan)
  • One of just three players in NBA History to average at least 40 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 assists for a playoff series (Oscar Robertson and Larry Bird)
  • One of just four players in NBA History to lead their team in all five major statistical categories in a season (Dave Cowens, Scottie Pippen, Kevin Garnett)
  • Only Forward in NBA History to average more than 8 assists per game.
Youngest Player to...
  • Record a triple-double
  • Score 30 points in a game
  • Score 40 points in a game
  • average 30 points a game for a season
  • lead the league in All-Star voting
  • to be named All-NBA first team
  • to score 2,000 points in a season
  • to reach EVERY thousand-point milestone from 1,000 points to 15,000
This list could go on and on, but these are some of the finer bullets on his resume.

Really, the question of whether LeBron James would be a first ballot Hall of Famer right now, isn't even much of question. 

LeBron James is one of the best NBA players ever to play the game and he's not even 30 years old yet. 

Some might argue that his lack of a championships should keep him out of the Hall of Fame. If that's your argument, be prepared to kick Elgin Baylor, Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, John Stockton, Patrick Ewing, Dominique Wilkins, George Gervin, and Pete Maravich out of the Hall of Fame, just to name a few.

The bottom line is that LeBron James' numbers blows some of the current Hall of Famers right out of the water, including some first-balloters.

One could make an argument that LeBron James belongs in the Hall of Fame based on his high school career alone (see Jack McCracken).

So while LeBron James might have a lot of work left to do to reach a Michael Jordan-type status, there is no question about it.

LeBron James, clearly, is already a first-ballot Hall of Famer.