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LeBron James, NBA Playoffs, Hall of Fame

The 20 Hall Of Fame Players LeBron James Eliminated In The NBA Playoffs

As LeBron James turns 36, The King has a decorated NBA career, which includes him winning four championships and Finals MVPs. He has also earned league MVP and All-NBA distinctions throughout his career. Because of this, he is part of the GOAT conversation that pits him against no other than Michael Jordan.

One of the heated debates about James and Jordan is the rivals they faced in the postseason and how these two superstars fared against the competition of their respective eras. For this piece, let’s take a look at 20 current and future Hall-of-Famers that LeBron eliminated in the playoffs. Although there are a couple of rising stars and all-star players that can make a case to be Hall-of-Famers, however for this list, we will focus on players who are already inducted, Hall-of-Fame locks, and players who are on the verge of being locks.

1)Tim Duncan

NBA Playoffs, LeBron James, Hall of Fame

Times eliminated: 1

HOF status: Inducted in 2020

One of the toughest rivals of LeBron James was Tim Duncan. The King faced The Big Fundamental on three NBA Finals in 2007, 2013, and 2014. In fact, these two competitors have so much respect for each other as they let it out every time they met in the Finals stage, with Duncan even telling James in 2007 that he would be the next big thing in the league in a few years time, which eventually became a reality.

Although Duncan got the best of James in 2007 and 2014, The King managed to defeat Duncan when the Miami Heat pulled off a dramatic finish in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals that led to an overtime finish and a Game 7 victory that gave James his second straight NBA ring and NBA Finals MVP trophy with the Miami Heat. There’s no question that eliminating a high profile player like Tim Duncan certainly makes James’ case as the GOAT.

2) Tony Parker

Times eliminated: 1

HOF status: 93.86% probability

Tony Parker is not in the Hall-of-Fame yet, but he does have a good chance of making it there with four NBA championships under his belt. Like Duncan, the french star was part of the Spurs team in 2007 and 2014 that continued to torment James in his quest for a championship, as he was even declared the Finals MVP in 2007. Because of this Parker is no question one of the formidable foes that James encountered in the postseason.

Fortunately for James, he would get the best of Parker in 2013 when the Heat led by its Big Three defeated the Spurs in seven games. Despite Parker averaging 15.7 points and 6.4 assists per outing, James was simply too much to contain for Parker and the Spurs.

3) Manu Ginobili

Times eliminated: 1

HOF status: 20.05% probability

It is actually very surprising that Manu has a low HOF probability given that he has achieved a lot in his basketball career that includes international success and four NBA championships, with two of them at the expense of LeBron James’ teams.

However, James did prevent Manu from winning another championship in 2013. Of course, this didn’t come easy given that Ginobili also made a great impact alongside Duncan, Parker, and Leonard.

Fortunately for James, the presence of Wade, Bosh, and a handful of veterans certainly allowed The King to finally win one against Ginobili and the Spurs.

4) Kawhi Leonard

Times eliminated: 1

HOF status: 55.57% probability

Another future Hall-of-Famer from the Spurs that James was able to eliminate was Kawhi Leonard. As one of the premiere superstars in the league today, there is no doubt that defeating Leonard is a major feat. Although The Claw’s probability rate to make it to the HOF isn’t as high yet, but Leonard has achieved so much in his young career that he is definitely on track to be a HOF lock in the near future, especially with already two NBA championships and Finals MVP trophies under his belt, while also garnering four All-Star game appearances.

Tasked to defend James in their encounters in the Finals, LBJ would have the best of Kawhi in their initial encounter in 2013. James put up 25.3 points, 10.9 rebounds, and 7.0 assists per outing.

With both players currently in the Western Conference, there is no question that there will more duels to come for these two superstars.

5) Paul George

Times eliminated: 4

HOF status: 65.44% probability

Paul George has been one of the best sweet-shooting forwards in the league today. However, it is worth noting that George has never beaten LBJ in a playoff series. In fact, The King has always asserted his mastery over Paul George and his teams in the postseason by eliminating him four times, which is the highest in this list.

While suiting up with the Indiana Pacers, PG often found himself pitted against LeBron James and the Miami Heat or the Cleveland Cavaliers. Although PG often led the Pacers to consistently threaten LBJ’s place in the East, James always showed why he was the ruler of the Eastern Conference.

While with the Miami Heat, James and George clashed for three straight years which turned into a rivalry wherein the Heat outlasted PG and the Pacers in seven games on the first two occasions, with the last encounter concluding in five games. Afterwards when James returned to the Cavs, the two clashed again in 2017 with PG and the Pacers suffering a sweep in the first round.

With the six time All-Star teaming up with Kawhi in Los Angeles, it remains to be seen whether PG can get a playoff series win over The King.

6) Paul Pierce

Times eliminated: 3

HOF status: 99.74% probability

As a deadly scorer for the Boston Celtics, there is no question that Pierce was a formidable rival for James. Leading the way in tormenting The King during his Cleveland days, Pierce usually got the best of him before James headed to South Beach.

When James headed to Miami to form the Big Three, Pierce and the Celtics just couldn’t get a crack at James. In their first encounter in 2011, the Heat eliminated Pierce and the Celtics in the Conference Semifinals in just five games. On the other hand, James continued his mastery over Pierce the following year during the Conference Finals and finished them in five games as well.

Even if Pierce went to Brooklyn, beating LBJ and the Heat remained elusive for the one time NBA champion.

The Truth was certainly a great competitor that has denied James in the postseason twice, but James certainly didn’t let up as he avenged those eliminations with two of his own during his days with the Heat.

7) Kevin Garnett

Times eliminated: 3

HOF status: Inducted in 2020

Aside from Pierce, another Hall-of-Famer that from the Celtics team that James eliminated was Kevin Garnett. Of course, Garnett’s defense and relentless hustle were headaches for James in the postseason. In fact, Garnett almost always managed to finish with a double-double in their encounters during the postseason.

However, James was simply difficult to stop in his days with the Heat. In 2011, James averaged 28.0 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per outing during the Eastern Conference Semifinals. While in 2012, The King had a monster series that saw him register 33.6 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 3.9 dimes per game to help the Heat eliminate KG and the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals. Like Pierce, Garnett was also on the Brooklyn Nets team in 2014 that was eliminated by the Heat in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in six games.

With James as the head of the Big Three of the Heat, none of the teams from the East could stop them even if the Celtics and the Nets had a championship caliber player like KG.

8) Ray Allen

Times eliminated: 2

HOF status: Inducted in 2018

Ray Allen was one of the best knockdown shooters in the league. Because of this, he is certainly one of the rivals that James had difficulty in guarding. While running with the Celtics, Allen was also part of the Boston teams that eliminated James and the Cavs in 2008 and 2010.

However, James would prevail against Allen in 2011 and 2012. As a result, Allen became one of the Hall-of-Famers that The King has successfully denied in the playoffs. As history unfolded, in fact, Allen would later on leave the Celtics to join James and the Heat the following year to capture the 2013 NBA championship.

9) Shaquille O’Neal

Times eliminated: 1

HOF status: Inducted in 2016

After running the floor with LeBron James and the Cavs in 2009, Shaq joined the Boston Celtics in 2010 in hopes of another championship run. By that time, James also left the Cavs to join the Big Three of the Miami Heat alongside Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

With Shaq joining the Celtics, these two former teammates found themselves on opposing sides come the 2011 Eastern Conference Semifinals. Although Shaq wasn’t really a major factor in that series, he was still a champion veteran that served as the Celtics’ back-up big man.

But nevertheless, it will go down in the record books that in their one and only postseason encounter, James prevailed. With the elimination of the Celtics that year, James successfully denied another Hall-of-Famer of a championship.

10) Stephen Curry

Times eliminated: 1

HOF status: 99.89% probability

Stephen Curry and the Warriors were arguably the toughest rivals James ever faced in his career. With Curry’s hot shooting and unmatched ball handling, The King suffered a lopsided rivalry that saw Curry win three rings against James and the Cavs. Although the Warriors did win more rings, however, James did manage to pull off the impossible.

Despite being down 1-3 in the NBA Finals, James led the Cavs out of the hole and pulled off a shocking upset to become the first team in league history to complete the comeback. As a result, not only did James manage to win one against Curry, but he also managed to make history and win his third ring in doing so.

There is no question that Curry is one of the best players that belongs in this list, which will only favor James’ case as the GOAT.

11) Kevin Durant

Times eliminated: 1

HOF status: 100% probability

Kevin Durant is no doubt one of the best players today. In fact, he is so good that he has already put up a Hall-of-Fame career at just the age of 32. Throughout his career, he has collected league MVPs, two NBA rings and Finals MVPs, with two of those championships won by knocking out James’ Cavs teams in the Finals. Because of this, the hot shooting swingman was certainly one of the best players that James ever faced in the postseason.

But in their first encounter, James would strike first. The two first met in the 2012 NBA Finals, where James and KD tried to outclass each other. In that series, KD had a better scoring output as he averaged 30.6 points per game on 54.8% shooting overall. On the other hand, James averaged 28.6 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 7.4 assists per game. Although The King had a lower scoring output, LBJ still prevailed as he helped the Heat beat the Thunder in five games which earned him his very first NBA championship and Finals MVP trophy.

12) James Harden

Times eliminated: 2

HOF status: 99.90% probability

Aside from KD, another star player from that OKC team was James Harden. Although Harden wasn’t a superstar he is now at that time, he was still a reliable spark plug off the bench. In fact, he was even declared the Sixth Man of the Year in 2012. Unfortunately however, LBJ prevented him from winning a ring that year. With James focused on redemption, after a disappointing Finals performance in 2011, The King took care of business.

Aside from the 2012 NBA Finals loss by Harden, The Beard would meet LBJ again in last season’s postseason when the Rockets met the Lakers in the Western Conference Semifinals. This time, Harden is already the face of the franchise he plays for. Furthermore, The Beard was a MVP candidate that was tasked to take the Rockets to new heights. However, with LBJ motivated to win another NBA championship, the Lakers were able to finish Harden and the Rockets in just five games.

Thus, adding another HOF lock in James Harden to James’ casualties.

13) Russell Westbrook

Times eliminated: 2

HOF status: 99.92% probability

Like James Harden, Westbrook was also part of the OKC and Houston teams that LBJ guided to elimination. Westbrook has emerged to become a triple double machine that has put him alongside the likes of Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson, and LeBron James himself. In fact, he is second in league history when it comes to the most number of triple doubles accomplished by a player in his entire career.

Although Westbrook has surpassed LBJ when it comes to the all-time triple doubles list, the 6’3 guard has never won against James in a playoff series in his career. With Westbrook currently with the Wizards, it will hard for these two superstars to meet again unless they both take their respective teams to the NBA Finals.

14) Damien Lillard

Times eliminated: 1

HOF status: 71.95% probability

At 30 years of age, Lillard has achieved so much for the Portland Trailblazers even before his peak years. As the face of the franchise, he has dropped major scoring numbers and memorable game winners that have made the Blazers a contender. Because of this, Big Game Dame is certainly on the way to become a HOF lock. However, the biggest question surrounding Lillard is whether or not he can win a championship as he has never played past the Conference Finals.

Lillard’s latest playoff exit, of course, saw him get eliminated by the James-led Los Angeles Lakers. James and Lillard have only met once in the postseason, given that both were often on separate conferences in the earlier years. However, in their first and only meeting so far, The King led the Lakers to a dominant first round showing against Lillard and the Blazers, where the latter were finished off in five games. In that series, James put up a dominant showing by registering 27.4 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 10.2 dimes per game.

15) Carmelo Anthony

Times eliminated: 2

HOF status: 98.18% probability

Battles between Melo and James were definitely some of the most legendary matchups we’ve ever seen when they were both in their younger years. However, these two iconic players barely met in the postseason with only two clashes against each other in the playoffs. It is worth noting though, that James prevailed in both occasions.

James and Melo met for the first time in 2012, where The King led the Miami Heat past the Knicks in five games during the first round, despite Melo averaging 27.8 points per outing in the series. In the second time around, like Lillard, Melo was part of the Blazers team in 2020 that suffered a first round exit against James and the Lakers.

16) Vince Carter

Times eliminated: 1

HOF status: 94.55% probability

Vince Carter is arguably the most notable player that recently hanged up his sneakers. The high-flying swingman entertained basketball fans with his high-flying athletic dunks and iconic game winning shots. As a result, there is no doubt that Carter will find himself in the Hall-of-Fame in the near future.

LBJ and Carter never really met in the postseason. However, they did play against each other in the 2007 Eastern Conference Semifinals. James and the surging Cavaliers ran past the New Jersey Nets in six games. Nevertheless, James and Carter had great individual series at that time. Carter led his team by putting up 19.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 6.7 dimes per outing.  On the other hand, James averaged 24.7 points, 8.5 assists, and 7.3 rebounds per game.

Although these two legends only played once in the postseason, The King was certainly one of the reasons why Carter never won a NBA championship in his career.

17) Jason Kidd

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Times eliminated: 1

HOF status: Inducted in 2018

Although Jason Kidd won his first and only NBA championship at the expense of James and the Miami Heat in 2011, before that Kidd and James actually met in the 2007 postseason. Alongside Vince Carter, Kidd was a vital cog for the New Jersey Nets that helped the team reach the NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003.

In the 2007 Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Cavs, Kidd put up 15.2 points, 11.8 boards, and 8.7 assists. However, despite the near triple double averages of Kidd, James led the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals that year.

Although Kidd would get the last laugh in 2011, the 10 time All-Star still belongs to this list.

18) Chauncey Billups

Time eliminated: 1

HOF status: 84.40% probability

Chauncey Billups may not be a Hall-of -Famer yet. However, he still has a decent chance of making it. The spitfire guard was a dead shot for the Detroit Pistons, as he helped the franchise win a championship in 2004. Given that Billups was the spearhead of this Pistons team, he certainly had a great foe in LeBron James.

The two have met twice in the postseason. The first in 2006 and the second in 2007. In their first playoff series against each other, Billups would prevail as the Pistons eliminated the Cavs in seven grueling games. In that series, the 2004 Finals MVP averaged 14.9 points and 5.9 assists per game.

However in their final playoff clash, James would get the last laugh as The King carried the Cavs on his shoulders in the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals. LBJ would have one of the best playoff performances in his career at the expense of Billups and the Pistons, wherein he averaged 25.7 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 8.5 assists per outing including a 48 point explosion in Game 6, where he also shot an iconic game winning lay-up that eventually helped the Cavs barge into the NBA Finals.

19) Pau Gasol

Times eliminated: 1

HOF status: 93.35% probability

Pau Gasol is widely known for his Lakers days, given how great he was next to Kobe Bryant. However, he did eventually take his talents to the Chicago Bulls to team-up with Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler.

It was in the 2015 Eastern Conference Semifinals when Gasol clashed with LBJ in the postseason for the first time ever. In that series, the Spanish star averaged 11.5 points and 5.8 boards. However, the duo of LBJ and Kyrie Irving were just too much to overcome for Gasol and the Bulls. In that series, James put up 26.2 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 8.8 assists per game including a game winning jumper at the buzzer in Game 4.

Although Pau was already no longer in his prime years at that time, James was still responsible in denying him a championship outside of Los Angeles.

20) Kyle Lowry

Times eliminated: 3

HOF status: 86.12% probability

If there is another player that James completely dominated, it would be Kyle Lowry. Although Lowry finally emerged to become a star player with the Toronto Raptors, he would also become part of the receiving end of James’ reign in the East.

James and Lowry clashed for three straight years when the Raptors met the Cavaliers in the postseason. Lowry often spearheaded the Raptors attack in their clashes against each other. However, LBJ was simply too much to contain.

In 2017, James led the Cavs past the Raptors in five games. On the other hand in 2016 and 2018, the series reached seven grueling games but Lowry and the Raptors constantly failed in preventing James from reaching the NBA Finals.

As a result, James even earned the reputation of “LeBronto” for his mastery over Lowry and the Raptors.