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Sunday, October 5, 2014

10 of The Greatest Basketball Players To Never Win A NBA Championship

Originally posted on KCSportsNinja on April 15, 2014

Every sport always has some of its all time greats with many accolades and achievements, but could never capture a championship. The NBA is no stranger to that category as well as we take a look at some of the greatest players ever in its history to never win a title.

Allen Iverson
He may have been “The Answer” but Allen Iverson never found the right one when it came to capturing an NBA ring. Despite his 2001 MVP Season, Iverson and the Philadelphia 76ers would lose to Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, and the Los Angeles Lakers in five games. Iverson spent 10 seasons in Philadelphia before moving around from Denver, Detroit, and Memphis. Iverson returned to the Sixers in the 2009-10 season, but was plagued with an injury that cut his season short. In what would be his final NBA season that year, Iverson played one season in the Turkish Basketball League in 2010-11. On October 30, 2013, after a couple years of not playing the sport, Iverson officially announced his retirement from the game of basketball.
4 time NBA Scoring Title winner (1998-99, 2000-01, 2001-02, 2004-05)
11 time NBA All-Star (Won All Star Game MVP twice, 2001-02 & 2004-05)
3 time All NBA First Team
3 time All NBA Second Team
1 time All NBA Third Team
2001 NBA MVP
1997 NBA Rookie of the Year
NBA All Rookie Team (1997)
NBA Rookie Challenge MVP (1997) Now known as “Rising Stars Challenge”
3 time NBA Steals Leader (2001-2003)
Jersey Number (3) retired by Philadelphia 76ers
1 NBA Finals Appearance

Karl Malone
Despite being the all-time leading scorer in Utah Jazz history, “The Mailman” Karl Malone could not deliver an NBA Championship. Utah made back to back NBA Final appearances in 1997 and 1998, but fell to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls both times in six games. Malone would get another chance however, this time with the Lakers in 2004. On paper, the Lakers looked like a superior team than that of the Utah Jazz team’s Malone was on which featured Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, Gary Payton, Derek Fisher, and former teammate Bryon Russell. L.A. faced off against the Eastern Conference Champions, Detroit Pistons. After losing Game 1, the Lakers bounced back to tie the series at 1-1, but from that point on it was all Detroit. The Pistons used their defense to slow down the high scoring Lakers offense and defeated them in five games. The 2004 season would end up being Malone’s last and in the end the “Mailman” could never find the right address.
2 time NBA MVP (1997, 1999)
14 time NBA All-Star
2 time NBA All-Star MVP
11 Time All NBA First Team
2 Time All NBA Second Team
1 Time All NBA Third Team
3 Time All-Defensive First Team
1 Time All Defensive Second Team
NBA All Rookie Team (1986)
NBA’S 50th Anniversary All Time Team
Jersey Number  (32) retired by Utah Jazz
Utah Jazz all time leading scorer (36,594 points as a Jazz)
One of only five players in NBA history who have compiled at least 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 4,000 assists. (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, Charles Barkley, Kevin Garnett)
3 NBA Final appearances
John Stockton
John Stockton and Karl Malone created an effective one-two punch during their days in Utah. The story is pretty much the same for Stockton as it was for Malone (with the exception of Malone making it to the Finals in 2004) where they each came up short in the NBA Finals, falling to the Chicago Bulls both times. Stockton owns two prestigious all time NBA records, all time assists leader and all time steals leader. Stockton could not deliver the biggest assist and steal a NBA title in either of his appearances in the Finals.
10 time NBA All-Star (1993 NBA All Star Game MVP)
9 time NBA Assist Leader (1988-1996)
2 time NBA Steals Leader (1989, 1992)
2 time All NBA First Team
6 time All NBA Second Team
3 time All NBA Third Team
5 time NBA All Defensive Second Team
NBA’s 50th Anniversary All Time Team
Jersey number (12) retired by Utah Jazz
NBA All Time Assists Leader (15,806)
NBA All Time Steals Leader (3,265)
2 NBA Final appearances
Charles Barkley
Charles Barkley was drafted in 1984 by the Philadelphia 76ers which featured star players Moses Malone, “Dr. J” Julius Erving, and Maurice Cheeks. By 1989 the three players were no longer with the organization (Malone traded in the 1986-87 season with Erving retiring at the conclusion of that year as well, and Cheeks left Philadelphia) and Barkley presumably became the team’s star. Despite individual success, Barkley was not happy and wanted out of Philadelphia. A trade in the 1992 off-season sent him to the Phoenix Suns. Barkley instantly found both individual and team success as he was named league MVP and Phoenix posting a 62-20 record, the leagues best in the 1992-93 season. Though it was not easy, the Suns went through the Western Conference and appeared in the Finals that year against Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. Even with home court advantage, Barkley and the Suns still came up short and lost in six games. Barkley spent three more seasons in Phoenix, none in which they made it past the Western Conference Semi-Finals. In what was a last ditch attempt to obtain a NBA title, Barkley was traded to the Houston Rockets prior to the 1996-97 season to form a trio with Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. In his first season with Houston, Barkley and the Rockets made it to the Western Conference Finals before being eliminated in six games by the Utah Jazz. In the following two seasons the Rockets failed to make it past the first round. The 1999-00 season would end up being Barkley’s last due to a severe injury that was career ending when he ruptured his left quadriceps tendon.
1993 NBA MVP
10 time NBA All-Star (1991 All Star Game MVP)
5 time All NBA First Team
5 time All NBA Second Team
1 time All NBA Third Team
NBA All Rookie First Team (1985)
NBA Rebound Leader (1986-1987)
Jersey number (34) retired by both Philadelphia 76ers and Phoenix Suns
NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team
One of only five players in NBA history who have compiled at least 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 4,000 assists. (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, Karl Malone, Kevin Garnett)
1 NBA Final appearance

Patrick Ewing
Drafted 1st overall in 1985 by the New York Knicks, Patrick Ewing continued his dominance from his college career and won the 1986 Rookie of the Year. Ewing helped the Knicks become title contenders, but like others on the list he ran into Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls! The Knicks faced the Bulls six times in the playoffs during Ewing’s career in New York and went 1-5. The series that New York did win was after the season that Michael Jordan announced his 1st retirement. After defeating Chicago in the 2nd round, Ewing would lead the Knicks into the 1994 NBA Finals against the Houston Rockets in which they held a 3-2 series lead. The Knicks however, would fail to clinch and lost the next two games by just a combined 8 points. Between 1995-98, the New York Knicks failed to make it past the 2nd round. In 1999, Ewing and the Knicks made a surprising run to the NBA Finals as the #8 seed in the East, defeating Miami, Atlanta, and Indiana respectively along the way. Unfortunately an Achilles injury that Ewing had been plagued with forced him to sit out the remainder of the Finals against the San Antonion Spurs who would go on to defeat the Knicks in five games to capture the franchises first title. The following season, which would be Ewing’s last in New York, the Knicks met the Indiana Pacers in an Eastern Conference Championship rematch from last year, but with Indiana coming out on top this time. Ewing played one season in Seattle before playing his last season in Orlando and retiring there after.
11 time NBA All-Star
1986 Rookie of the Year
1 time All NBA First Team
6 time All NBA Second Team
3 time NBA All Defensive Second Team
NBA All Rookie Team (1986)
NBA Rookie of the Year (1986)
New York Knicks All Time Leading Scorer (23, 665 points as a Knick)
Jersey number (33) retired by New York Knicks
NBA’s 50th Anniversary All Time Team
2 NBA Final appearances
Reggie Miller
Arguably one of the best clutch players in NBA history, Reggie Miller was always fun to watch and when faced with adversity it would be “Miller Time”. One of Miller’s most memorable moments was when he scored 8 points in 8.9 seconds during a playoff game against the New York Knicks. New York had a six point lead over the Indiana Pacers when Miller hit a three, stole the inbound pass, stepped back for another three and tied the game! Miller hit two free throws to complete the remarkable comeback. Another memorable “Miller Time” moment came in the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals against the Chicago Bulls. Guarded by Michael Jordan, Miller hit a game winning three point shot to tie the series at two games a piece. The Bulls however would ultimately go on to win the series in seven games. Miller finally guided the Pacers to an NBA Finals appearance in 2000, but would lose in six against the L.A. Lakers who were led by Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. The closest Miller ever got to returning to the Finals was in 2004 before ultimately being eliminated by eventual champions Detroit Pistons. The following season would be Miller’s last and would again be eliminated by the Pistons in six games, this time in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals
5 time NBA All Star
3 time All NBA Third Team
NBA All Rookie Second Team (1988)
2004 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award
50-40-90 Club (1994)
Indiana Pacers all-time leading scorer (25,279 points)
Jersey number (31) retired by Indiana Pacers
1 NBA Final appearance

Dominique Wilkins
Known as “The Human Highlight Reel” Dominique Wilkins is known for being one of the best dunkers in NBA history. Wilkins who was a recipient of the NBA’s Slam Dunk Champion twice, spent 11 1/2 seasons with the Atlanta Hawks and is the franchise’s all time leading scorer. During his time in Atlanta, Wilkins and the Hawks never made it past the second round. In 1994, Wilkins was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers, who would go on to be eliminated in the first round of that year’s playoffs. Wilkins signed with the Boston Celtics in the off-season prior to the 1994-95 season. After a year in Boston, Wilkins split his last four year in the NBA and foreign leagues before calling it a career in 1999.
9 time NBA All Star
1 time All NBA First Team
4 time All NBA Second Team
2 time All NBA Third Team
NBA All Rookie Team (1983)
1 time NBA Scoring Champion (1986)
2 time NBA Slam Dunk Contest Champion (1985, 1990)
Atlanta Hawks all-time leading scorer (23,292 points)
Jersey number (21) retired by Atlanta Hawks
0 NBA Final appearances

George Gervin
George Gervin first started his professional career out with the Virginia Squires of the ABA. Gervin, who was also known as “The Iceman” was shipped to the San Antonio Spurs, who were also part of the ABA upon his arrival, joined the NBA in 1976. Gervin won the NBA Scoring Title 4 times (only Wilt Chamberlin and Michael Jordan have more). Gervin and the Spurs made it to the Conference Finals three times during his tenure with San Antonio, with 1979 being the closest where they ultimately fell in seven games to the Washington Bullets (Now known as the Washington Wizards). Gervin finished his NBA career in the 1985-86 season with a Chicago Bulls team that was led by a young Michael Jordan. The Bulls were eliminated in the first round and Gervin would finish his basketball career in 1990 before making stops in an Italian League, a year with the CBA’s Quad City Thunder, and a year in Spain.
9 time NBA All Star (MVP of 1980 All-Star Game)
5 time All NBA First Team
2 time All NBA Second Team
4 time NBA Scoring Champion
3 time ABA All Star
2 time All ABA Second Team
ABA All Rookie First Team (1973)
Jersey number (44) retired by San Antonio Spurs
NBA’s 50th Anniversary All Time Team
ABA All Time Team

Pete Maravich
Even though his career was short, Pete Maravich was one of the greatest ball handlers the sports of basketball has ever seen! Maravich earned the name “Pistol Pete” due to his delivery of shooting the ball near his hips. Maravich would wow spectators with his amazing and effective passing and dribbling abilities. Unfortunately injuries over the years began to take its toll on Maravich, forcing him to cut his career short and retire after only 10 seasons in the NBA. Maravich would tragically die at the young age of 40 during a pick up game of basketball in 1988.
5 time NBA All Star
2 time All NBA First Team
2 time All NBA Second Team
NBA All Rookie Team (1971)
1 time NBA Scoring Champion
Jersey number (7) retired both by Utah Jazz and New Orleans Pelicans
NBA’s 50th Anniversary All Time Team
0 NBA Final appearances

Dikembe Mutombo
One of the best shot blockers ever in the NBA, Dikembe Mutombo presence’s was felt quickly. Drafted by the Nuggets in 1991, Mutombo and Denver made history during his third season with the team when they became the first number 8 seed to beat a 1 seed in NBA Playoff history. After five seasons with Denver, Mutombo signed a contract in the 1996 off-season with the Atlanta Hawks. During his four seasons there, the Hawks failed to make it past the 2nd round. Midway through the 2000-01 season, Mutombo was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers to counter the Western Conference’s big men’s Tim Duncan and Shaquille O’Neal. Mutombo and the 76ers would meet O’Neal and the Lakers in the NBA Finals and jumped out to a 1-0 series lead after upsetting Los Angeles in Game 1. The Lakers would bounce right back though, and take the next four games to win the series and 2001 championship. Mutombo spent one more season in Philadelphia before signing with the New Jersey Nets (now known as the Brooklyn Nets) in 2002-03, where he was used in more of a reserve role. The Nets made it all the way to the Finals that year where they met Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs. The Nets split the first four games with the Spurs before San Antonio won the next two too clinch the series. Mutombo would spend a season in New York and finish out the remainder of his career with the Houston Rockets, where again he was used in a backup role. Mutombo’s final game came in Game 2 of the 1st round of the 2009 Playoffs, during which he suffered a ruptured tendon in quadriceps on his left knee.
8 time NBA All Star
1 time All NBA Second Team
2 time All NBA Third Team
4 time NBA Defensive Player of the Year
3 time NBA All Defensive First Team
3 time NBA All Defensive Second Team
NBA All Rookie Team (1992)
2 time NBA Rebounding Champion
3 time NBA Blocking Champion
2 NBA Final appearances
Certainly these players all have decorated careers, but would have loved to added a championship ring to their collection. There are definitely many others who could make this list, and many more will join it in the future. Who do you think are some of the all time greats not listed here to have never won an NBA Championship? Feel free to leave your opinion and share it and this article with others!


  1. Nice...Its highly informative post. I really enjoyed reading. Thanks

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    1. Hey you're welcome. Thanks for reading and glad you enjoyed it!