Reggie Miller says LeBron James is already a first ballot Hall of Famer

If LeBron retired today, would he already be a first ballot Hall of Famer?

5/4/12 in NBA   |   Pat   |   5234 respect

May 3, 2012; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks shooting guard J.R. Smith (8) defends Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) during the second half of game three in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Madison Square Garden.  Miami won 87-70.  Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIREReggie Miller made some waves yesterday when he said that LeBron James could retire today, and would already be a Hall of Famer.

"He doesn't have to play another minute of basketball, and he's a first ballot Hall of Famer, in my opinion. He's gonna have 3 MVPs by the end of this. When you look at the stats, and what he has done, the All Stars, he's a Hall of Famer."

Few people would question the fact that LeBron is definitely on pace for eventual Hall of Fame induction, but the idea of a 27-year old already being worthy of Hall of Fame honors is a little tough to wrap one's mind around, especially on the first ballot.

The thing is, the basketball Hall of Fame is a little different from other sports. In baseball, you can win the MVP and never have a chance to be in the Hall of Fame. You need at least a decade of great play to even be considered. In football, you can retire as the all-time leader in every significant statistic for your position, and still be snubbed for years (Art Monk, anyone?).

In basketball, there are a few things that make you a lock for the Hall of Fame. One of the most prominent of those is the MVP award.

Every single Hall-eligible player with an NBA MVP has been inducted. Here's a list of players who have won an MVP and aren't in the Hall of Fame (courtesy of basketball reference):
Apr 28, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose (1) brings the ball down the court during the first quarter in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs against the Philadelphia 76ers at the United Center.  Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-US PRESSWIREDerrick Rose
Shaquille O'Neal
Dirk Nowitzki
Allen Iverson
Kevin Garnett
Kobe Bryant
Steve Nash
Tim Duncan
LeBron James

Notice that they're all either active or very recently retired. Also, with the exception of Rose, who is still very young, they're all almost certainly a lock for the Hall of Fame.

With that in mind, LeBron has already won TWO MVP awards, and is most likely going to take home one more for this season.

James is 3rd all-time in points per game, which is obviously impressive. Something that a lot of people probably don't realize is that he's also 28th all time in assists per game. That might be even more remarkable than the points, because we already knew he's a great scorer.

The biggest knock on LeBron: Obviously, it's the fact that he doesn't have a championship, and has appeared to shrink in the biggest moments of his career. Whether it's against the Spurs in his first NBA Finals appearance or against the Celtics or Mavericks, he has consistently underperformed in clutch moments.

That having been said, his pros outweigh his cons by a mile. He's a 5-time 1st team All-NBA player, and made the 2nd team twice. He also was a 1st team All-Defensive player 3 times.

He turned an otherwise pitiful Cleveland team into a legitimate title contender, and is an 8-time All-Star. He elevates the performance of players around him, almost to a fault.

The bottom line is this: Without question, LeBron James is already worthy of first ballot HOF induction.

The scary part: He's only halfway through his career.
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5/4/12   |   jjh8857   |   344 respect

Well he changed teams.  That cannot be tolerated.  Jeremy Lin is better.  crying

5/4/12   |   GeorgeMon   |   159 respect

When I first heard this my reaction was Reggie Miller is crazy, but you bring up an excellent point about the NBA hall of fame being more lax than the NFL, so I would probably agree.