Another season is coming up and that means the GOAT debate between Michael Jordan and LeBron James continues. James will be entering his 19th season as a professional in the NBA and will be 37 years of age by the time December 30th comes to date. His longevity is unprecedented and not even Michael Jordan could argue that. But one thing is for sure: Michael never played with the amount of Hall of Fame teammates that LeBron had.
Basketball is a team game but superstars often dictate the outcome of games and the amount of success a player has may depend on the amount of help he received. Michael Jordan currently has the edge over LeBron James with 6 rings, but is that because MJ had a large amount of Hall of Fame teammates? Scottie Pippen is one of the top-50 players of all time and his partnership with Jordan was the main reason the Bulls went 6-0 in the Finals. It can be fair to say that no teammate that LeBron ever had compares to what Pippen could bring on defense.
But LeBron has had his own incredible list of Hall of Fame teammates and yet another one is added to his list as the Lakers traded for 9-time All-Star and former MVP Russell Westbrook. Other than Kevin Durant, it is often argued that LeBron James has had the greatest teammates in NBA history. After all, James has played for 3 different franchises and has had the privilege of playing with superstar players with all of them.
Here are the Hall of Fame teammates that Michael Jordan and LeBron James have played with over their respective careers. It will be interesting to see how Russell Westbrook could stack the deck in LeBron’s favor as he looks to win his 5th championship. As things stand so far, Michael Jordan edges LeBron with 6 rings to 4, and here are the Hall of Fame teammates (both present and future Hall of Famers) of each superstar over their careers.
Michael Jordan’s Hall of Fame Teammates
16.1 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 5.2 APG, 2.0 SPG, 0.8 BPG, 7x All-Star
Scottie Pippen was the best thing that ever happened to Michael Jordan’s career. For years with the Bulls, Jordan was winning scoring titles and even MVP Awards but could not get over the hump in the playoffs. Jordan needed one All-Star teammate to help him out, and that is when Scottie Pippen became a star in the league.
Jordan and Pippen are the best duo in NBA history because they won 6 NBA titles together and never lost in the Finals, always winning the chip before Game 7 arrived. Pippen’s statistics are solid although pale in comparison to Jordan’s, but his true impact came on the defensive end as one of the greatest defensive wings we have ever seen.
7.3 PPG, 13.1 RPG, 1.8 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.6 BPG, 2x All-Star
Considered one of the best rebounders ever, Rodman was added to the roster to help Jordan and the Bulls complete their second 3-peat. While Jordan and Pippen already created the Dynasty, a second 3-peat would not have been possible without the enigmatic power forward.
Rodman was not required to score the ball, but to rebound and play some of the best defense we have seen. He was able to defend bigger players and even guards because he had a mix of length and quickness to go with his solid leaping ability. Even if Rodman was famously engaging in “extracurricular activities” during the NBA season, he was Jordan’s second-greatest teammate.
11.6 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 3.7 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Kukoc was a new breed of talent when he was drafted by the Chicago Bulls in 1990. The Croatian did not play in the NBA until 1994 due to stints abroad in Yugoslavia and Italy, but his impact was clearly evident. Standing 6'10", Kukoc could space the floor exceptionally well.
While it is common these days to have power forwards and centers shooting jumpers, Kukoc was rare and valuable in that sense. Jordan played with Kukoc on the floor for 3 full seasons, winning three straight championships between 1996-1998. His impact as a scoring power forward was most evident in the 1996 season as he won 6th Man of the Year averaging 13.1 PPG and 4.0 RPG.
14.5 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 1.4 APG, 0.8 SPG, 1.5 BPG, 9x All-Star
The Hall of Famer only played with Michael Jordan for one reason, when Parish was 43 years old. The 7'1" center is one of the most accomplished players in NBA history, winning 4 NBA titles and making the All-Star Team 9 times.
Unfortunately for Jordan, he never got to play with a prime Parish. Robert Parish averaged 3.7 PPG and 2.1 RPG in only 9.4 MPG during the 1997 season, the same year Jordan played all 82 games while averaging 29.6 PPG and winning his 5th NBA championship.
LeBron James’ Hall of Fame Teammates
22.0 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 5.4 APG, 1.5 SPG, 0.8 BPG, 13x All-Star
No player was more important for LeBron James than Dwyane Wade. The Heat superstar already won an NBA title in 2006 by averaging 34.7 PPG, 7.8 RPG, and 3.8 APG and was the face of the franchise. When LeBron decided to join the Heat, it was because Dwyane Wade was there.
As great as LeBron James was as the best player in the world, he did not have a championship until he played with Wade. The King’s first ring came in 2012 with the Heat and that kickstarted what would be another decade of dominance, and much of that is owed to Wade’s presence as a winner.
23.9 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.4 SPG, 2.3 BPG, 8x All-Star
Anthony Davis is a rare talent, the type that comes once in a generation. Standing 6’10”, Davis moves and handles the ball like a guard. He can hit the three, make foul shots, and finish at the rim. In terms of raw talent, perhaps no player on this list has what Davis has.
That is why LeBron and Davis won the championship in 2020, the first season they played together. Davis complements LeBron perfectly, similar to how Wade did in Miami. Except Davis could score inside and be willing to lead the team in scoring with LeBron acting as the primary playmaker. A 7-time All-Star, Davis is most likely heading to the Hall of Fame when his career is over.
22.8 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 5.7 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.4 BPG, 7x All-Star
The man who hit the game-winning shot in the 2016 Finals to help LeBron earn his 3rd championship, Kyrie Irving is easily LeBron’s top-3 teammate ever. Irving was spectacular during their championship run with James, averaging 27.1 PPG on a scintillating 40.5% shooting from three.
Much like James had in Miami with Wade, Irving was an incredible go-to scorer that could deliver in the biggest moments. None came bigger in Game 7 of the 2016 Finals, and James would be the first to admit it would have been silly to take the shot over the cold-blooded Irving. Even if Irving later split from LeBron in quite ugly fashion, there is no doubt a brotherhood exists there.
19.2 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 2.0 APG, 0.8 SPG, 1.0 BPG, 11x All-Star
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade get the bulk of the credit for Miami’s back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013, but Chris Bosh goes underappreciated. His presence as a 3rd scorer, rebounder, and shooting threat allowed James and Wade the space to dominate as the best players on the floor. Without Bosh, the Heat do not make 4 straight NBA Finals appearances between 2011 and 2014.
Bosh is a Hall of Famer because 11 All-Star appearances and 2 NBA titles should be enough to place him among the top-20 power forwards of all time. As any 3rd wheel, Bosh had to make sacrifices and took a lot of criticism but in terms of talent, he is easily a top-5 teammate of LeBron James.
23.2 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 8.5 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.3 BPG, 9x All-Star
With their first season together coming up, there is no doubt Russell Westbrook will be among the top-5 players that LeBron ever played with. A triple-double threat and arguably the most athletic player in history, Westbrook is a force to be reckoned with on the offensive end. Despite shooting a career 30.5% from three, he is unstoppable at attacking the rim and can heat up quickly.
Westbrook will likely share ball-handling duties with LeBron James although he should be exhibiting the best efficiency of his career. For the first time in his career, Westbrook has an unselfish playmaker alongside him and perhaps the smartest player in NBA history. Westbrook will be expected to help LeBron win his 5th ring, and is the 5th Hall of Fame teammate to appear on this list.
18.0 PPG, 11.0 RPG, 2.4 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.4 BPG
The sharpshooting power forward had a great stint with the Minnesota Timberwolves, averaging 19.2 PPG and 12.2 RPG while winning Most Improved Player in 2011 and making 3 All-Star Teams. But Love's career would take a turn for the better when he was acquired by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Love, alongside LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, won the NBA championship in 2016 and added 2 more All-Star Team appearances to his resume. The 2-time All-NBA performer has a shot at the Hall of Fame, and a 50-50 inclusion is enough to place him on this list because he was certainly an important part of LeBron's career as well.
18.9 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 3.4 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.2 BPG, 10x All-Star
Ray Allen joined LeBron James in Miami when he was 37 years old, but he could still shoot the ball better than anyone else in the league at that point. Allen brought his career 40.0% 3-PT percentage to the Heat to allow LeBron and company the chance to go back-to-back, which they did in 2013.
Ray Allen is yet another clutch scorer who made a critical shot in the NBA Finals alongside LeBron James, much like Kyrie did 3 years later. With Game 6 and LeBron’s legacy on the line in 2013, Allen nailed a three-pointer to give the Heat life and momentum to close the series in 7 Games which gifted LeBron his 2nd championship ring.
16.2 PPG, 12.1 RPG, 1.4 APG, 0.9 SPG, 1.9 BPG, 8x All-Star
LeBron played with Dwight Howard in the 2020 season, as the center was able to play a vital role as a starter or bench player. Howard was not the same player who won 3 Defensive Player of the Year Awards, but he was still a big part of what the Lakers did on both ends of the floor.
Dwight averaged 7.5 PPG and 7.3 RPG in 2020, the only season he played with The King. Luckily for Howard and James, they will be playing with each other yet again in the 2022 season as the big man signed a contract in free agency.
18.5 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 5.5 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Derrick Rose will likely be a Hall of Famer because of becoming the youngest MVP in NBA history at age 22. Adding in a Rookie of the Year Award and 3 All-Star appearances, it is hard to tell the story of the NBA from the 2010's era without Derrick Rose.
The former MVP played with LeBron James for half a season in Cleveland, averaging 9.8 PPG. Rose clearly did not fit with the Cavaliers and was traded before the trade deadline in 2018 in a flurry of deals that benefited LeBron and Cleveland as they made the NBA Finals that year. Nonetheless, Rose is a realistic possibility for a Hall of Fame induction and that is why he appears on this list.
23.0 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.5 BPG, 10x All-Star
For years, people were clamoring for future Hall of Famer Carmelo Anthony to join forces with LeBron James. Anthony had a chance to join James with the Miami Heat in 2011 but opted to go to his hometown New York instead.
Finally, a thing has a chance to play with King James and compete for a championship. Anthony will be 37 years old in 2022 but can still score the ball as a starter or bench player. Anthony averaged 14.3 PPG over the last two years with the Trail Blazers, and can still be expected to score in double digits as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers.
23.7 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 2.5 APG, 0.6 SPG, 2.3 BPG, 15x All-Star
LeBron James with a prime Shaquille O'Neal would have been scary to watch and the pair would have won countless championships together. Instead, LeBron got to play with a 37-year old Shaquille O'Neal on his last legs. In the 2010 season, O'Neal averaged 12.0 PPG and 6.7 RPG while appearing in 53 games.
Shaq could still score inside in the half-court, but he was very limited as health and injuries began to take a toll on the veteran. LeBron James still got to experience one of the most physically dominant players ever and O'Neal was a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
5.7 PPG, 9.6 RPG, 1.3 APG, 1.3 SPG, 2.0 BPG, 4x All-Star
LeBron James got the last few years of Ben Wallace's Hall of Fame career. Wallace only played with LeBron a season and a half, averaging 3.3 PPG and 6.7 RPG in 24.3 MPG. Even at ages 33 and 34, Wallace could still grab rebounds and play defense.
But there is no way that Wallace was one of LeBron's best teammates because he wasn't a Defensive Player of the Year talent anymore. Wallace could not be considered a star at his age but is still one of the Hall of Fame teammates that James has played with.
Russell Westbrook Adds To LeBron’s List Of Incredible Teammates, Jordan Never Had This Amount Of Help
Seeing Russell Westbrook appear under LeBron’s list of greatest teammates is extraordinary. He will be the 12th Hall of Famer to appear under LeBron’s list compared to Jordan's 4, without the likes of Rajon Rondo who might have a chance for the Hall of Fame (taking LeBron's tally to 13). LeBron clearly has a knack for recruiting the best players to help him win and his unselfish nature in playing the game is what attracts stars to play with him.
On the other end, it was Jordan’s way or the highway. Jordan would be the one taking all the shots, getting all the praise, and also avoiding some of the criticism. That was the way it was going to be because he was the single most dominant competitor we have seen in team sports. Jordan’s nature as a scorer meant the Bulls had to surround him with defenders and playmakers to allow him to take over games, and there is no denying it worked.
6 championships compared to LeBron’s 4 championships is very eye-opening, especially considering the amount of Hall of Fame help The King has had in his illustrious career. Imaging giving Michael Jordan the likes of Dwyane Wade, Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving, or Russell Westbrook? Jordan would probably have enough rings to fill both hands in that case. LeBron James is one of the greatest players to have ever lived but the fact that Jordan has 6 rings without the immense help that James had should end the GOAT debate for now.