What are the Requirements to Become an NBA Hall of Famer?

Published 05/11/2021, 10:56 PM EDT
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – JUNE 12: Kobe Bryant, Lindsey Hunter and Shaquille O’Neal of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrate following Game Four of the NBA Finals against the New Jersey Nets on June 12, 2002 at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Sporting News via Getty Images via Getty Images)


This year, there’s double the excitement around the organization of the NBA Hall of Fame, and rightfully so. Last year, the pandemic forced a cancellation of the illustrious event and stopped the fans from witnessing legends basking in glory.

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On May 15, 2021, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, and Kobe Bryant will enter one of the most memorable HOF classes. The six-time champion Michael Jordan will also be in attendance to give a posthumous award to the Black Mamba. 

This brings one to wonder – what are the requirements to becoming a basketball Hall of Famer?

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NBA Hall of Fame Award eligibility and nomination

First and foremost, one must understand that the eligibility for retired players differs from that of a coach, a referee, or a contributor. For now, sticking to the set criteria for the players, there are a few important pointers to keep in mind.

The committee will only consider an application from a player retired for four complete seasons and who can receive the enshrinement in the fifth year. This is the case with Kobe Bryant. The Black Mamba retired in 2016, making the current year his quickest shot at receiving the honor. 

January 19, 2011: Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant #24 finished with 21 points in an NBA game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX Dallas defeated Los Angeles 109-100 (Photo by Albert Pena/Icon SMI/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Also, in case a player comes out of retirement for a short stint, his case will see a review on an individual basis. Take Michael Jordan – had he not made a comeback with the Wizards, he would have received the honor in 2003. But since his final retirement was stretched out, MJ received his ultimate official recognition in 2009.

Once the eligibility is met, the Basketball Hall of Fame (BHOF) must receive a completed nomination form by October 31 at the latest. Then the team adds the received forms to the official ballot and then presents them to the appropriate committees for further review.

Read also – Michael Jordan Admits Kobe Bryant Was Tougher Than Him

Which committees take care of the decision-making?

Approximately 200K+ people visit the 40,000 sq ft museum to learn more intimately about the 400+ HOF inductees. This makes the job of the selected committees even more important because their scrutiny of the candidates must be perfect. 

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NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks onstage for Building Brands and Delighting Fans: On October 25, 2018, in New York City. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images)

So for that, the Naismith Memorial BHOF has set up two screening committees – the North American and Women’s. If a candidate receives zero votes from both sides for three consecutive years, his candidature faces a cancellation for five years. 

At maximum, the two sides can elect 14 (10+4) finalists. Then, they send the chosen names for further scrutiny to the Board of Trustees and the Honors Committee. Upon approval from these groups, the filtered finalists, after successfully enduring all the integrity checks, reach the final door. The ‘Direct-Elect committees’ then carefully make the review and elect the enshrinees. 

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It is an arduous multi-level process and hence even the very best often fail to make the cut. Which deserving candidate in your eyes is yet to receive the honor? 

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Sourabh Singh

1258 articles

Sourabh Singh is an NBA sports analyst for EssentiallySports, who has been working with the site since May 2020. Prior to this, he functioned as Managing Editor at WittyFeed, followed by a stint at Decathlon. The Sports Management graduate leads an active lifestyle, veering to the mountains for off-trail adventures.

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