Barry Bonds should be a Hall of Famer, says former MLB star David Justice


Barry Bonds is one of the most polarizing athletes in the history of sports, but it comes against the backdrop of steroid use and his knowledge of taking performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) on multiple occasions.

The debate over the legitimacy of Bonds’ record-breaking career — he owns the MLB record for total home runs (762) and home runs in a single season (73) — has resulted in him being devoid of a plaque in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Former three-time All-Star David Justice gave his take on Bonds’ Hall of Fame candidacy on the latest edition of “No Facts No Brakes,” opining that a lacking relationship with the media has hurt him.

“If Barry was lovable during his career, he might be in the Hall of Fame,” Justice expressed to host Keyshawn Johnson. “This is why I think Barry Bonds should be in the Hall of Fame: Barry Bonds, before he came back swollen [in 1998], … was already a Hall of Famer. Let’s say at the end of 1997, Barry Bonds had a career-ending injury — it was done [him getting into the HOF]. He already was a three-time MVP, already in the All-Star Game every year, already [a] 30-30 [player]. 

“If you want to put an asterisk on everything he did after 1998, fine, but you cannot tell me this man was not a Hall of Famer already.”

Bonds spent the first seven seasons of his MLB career with the Pittsburgh Pirates (1986-92) before spending the ensuing 15 seasons with the San Francisco Giants (1993-2007). He was a seven-time MVP, an eight-time Gold Glover in left field, a two-time batting champion, 12-time Silver Slugger and 14-time All-Star. Bonds led MLB in slugging percentage seven times, in walks 12 times and posted an OPS+ over 200 six times.

Justice spent the first eight seasons of his career with the Braves (1989-96), primarily as an outfielder. His most productive season came in 1993, when he totaled 40 home runs and 120 RBIs. He spent the next three-plus seasons in Cleveland before being traded to the New York Yankees during the 2000 season. He finished his career with the Oakland Athletics in 2002. A two-time Silver Slugger Award winner and the 1990 National League Rookie of the Year, Justice was part of two World Series teams (1995 with the Braves and 2000 with the Yankees).

Justice was also part of arguably the best run in Braves history, as he was in a vibrant lineup that included Fred McGriff, Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones, Ryan Klesko and Javy Lopez, among others, throughout varying points of the 1990s. Furthermore, Atlanta had one of the best starting rotations in MLB history in Greg Maddux, John Smoltz and Tom Glavine. 

That said, it took several years for the Braves to win the World Series, as their postseason runs became defined by heartbreak; Atlanta lost in the World Series in back-to-back seasons in 1991 and 1992 and was eliminated in the National League Championship Series in 1993. 

Then, after the MLB lockout abruptly concluded the 1994 season, the Braves finally broke through, winning the 1995 World Series. Atlanta ultimately made the playoffs in 14 consecutive seasons (1991-2005, excluding 1994).

Justice chronicled the pressure that the Braves felt as they kept coming up short in the playoffs.

“I lost five World Series,” he said. “It’s like all the pressure is on us in Atlanta because we’ve already lost two World Series … [but] we had no weakness on that ‘95 team. There weren’t any deficiencies, but we had the pressure to win. They were starting to call us the Buffalo Bills of baseball because the Bills went to four Super Bowls in a row and lost all four of them.”

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