Top 10 players to never win an NBA title

Earlier this week, I was talking with my Baseline Hoops co-workers and the topic of the top players to never win a ring came up.  Our one writer made a bold claim that Allen Iverson is one of the top five players that played the game to never win a championship.  First, let me say that growing up I was the biggest Allen Iverson fan that there was.  As much as I liked Iverson and his heart, I can’t put him as one of the top-five players to never win a ring.  Once we had a good debate going, we thought it would be interesting to list our top players to never win a ring and see where they landed on our respective lists.  So without further adieu, here are my top-10 players to never win an NBA title.

1.) Elgin Baylor –  Baylor was one of the best players in the league for over 10 years. With a career average of 27.4 points per game, Baylor averaged 38.3 in 1961-1962 season.  He was Rookie of the Year, an 11-time All-Star, and made the All-NBA First Team 11 consecutive seasons from 1959 to 1969.  Baylor led the Lakers to eight NBA finals, but unfortunately had to face the Boston Celtics seven times during their remarkable feat of eight straight NBA titles.  Baylor and the Lakers also fell victim to the New York Knicks in 1969-1970 as Willis Reed carried the Knicks to victory.  When Baylor finally retired due to injuries in 1972, the Lakers finally won the title.

2.) Karl Malone – Malone is arguably the best power forward to ever play the game.  Malone was voted one of the NBA’s 50 greatest players, is a 14-time All-star, a 14-time All NBA selection (11-time First Team selection), and a two-time NBA MVP (one of nine players to win MVP of the league more than once).  Malone is second all-time in scoring with 36,374 points and averaged 25 points per game in his career.  Malone made the NBA Finals three times, twice as a member of the Utah Jazz and once in his only season as a Laker.  The Lakers fell short to the Pistons that year even with a lineup that featured “The Mailman, Gary Payton, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal.

3.)  Charles Barkley – “Sir Charles” Barkley was voted one of the 50 greatest players, is an 11-time All-star, a two-time Olympic Gold medal winner, a five-time All NBA team selection and the 1993 NBA MVP.  Barkley stood only 6’6, but was a force on the block as an undersized power forward.  Barkley consistently outrebounded other players and posted a career-high in rebounds in 1987 with 14.6 per game.  Barkley only  made the finals one year where he was bested by Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls in 1993.

4.)  John Stockton – Malone and Stockton are one of the best duos of all-time in the NBA in my opinion.  The pick-and-roll was made famous and was perfected by the two under the tutelage of Hall of Fame Coach Jerry Sloan.  One of the 50 greatest players, Stockton is the NBA all-time assists and steals leader with over 15,000 assists and 3200 steals. He led the NBA in assists in nine consecutive seasons. Stockton is a 10-time All-star and 11-time All NBA selection. Regarded as one of the best pure point guards in the league, Stockton led the Utah Jazz to the postseason in 18 consecutive seasons.  He made two NBA finals appearances with Malone, falling to the Bulls both times.

5.) George Gervin – “The Iceman” is one of the most legendary players to ever play the game and he sadly never had the chance to walk away with a NBA title.  Gervin had a great ABA and NBA career in which he totaled 26,595 total points. Gervin won four scoring titles (only Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan have more), played in nine straight NBA All-Star games, and finished second twice behind Bill Walton and Moses Malone respectively for NBA MVP honors. Known for his famous finger roll, launched from his fingertips while gliding through the lane, Gervin averaged 26.2 points in his NBA career and made it to three conference finals before losing to the eventual NBA champion Washington Bullets in 1979 Eastern Conference Finals, and the Lakers in 1982 and ’83 Western Conference Finals.

6.) Patrick Ewing – I may have Ewing higher on the list than most, but I truly feel he was one of the best big men to ever play the game of basketball.  Ewing, now a coach in Orlando who works with Dwight Howard on his low-post moves, was the No. 1 pick of the 1985 draft, the prize of the first ever Draft Lottery. Ewing led the New York Knicks back to relevance in the late 1980′s and made them a perennial contender in the 1990′s. He was voted one of the 50 greatest NBA players of all-time, is a two-time Gold medal winner, 11-time All-star and had one of the sweetest jump shots by a 7-footer. Ewing, who guaranteed an NBA title more than once during his career, fell short to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls three-straight seasons in three different rounds of the playoffs (1991 first round, 1992 Eastern Conference Semifinals, 1993 Eastern Conference Finals) and missed a golden opportunity to win the ring in 1994 up 3-2 against the Houston Rockets in the Finals. The rest of Ewing’s Knicks career was filled with heartbreak as they lost the 1995 Eastern Conference Semifinals to the Indiana Pacers after blowing Game 1 at home and missing a Game 7 finger roll.

7.) Pete Maravich – “Pistol” Pete was a college legend (averaged over 40 points a game in all four seasons at LSU) who brought his  game to the NBA in 1970. He was a five-time All-star, four time All-NBA selection, and was voted one of the NBA’s 50 Greatest players. In 10 full seasons playing for the Atlanta Hawks and New Orleans Jazz in the NBA, Maravich worked magic with the basketball. He led the NBA in scoring in 1977 and wowed the crowd with his blacktop style of basketball. Maravich scored a career high 68 points and scored over 40 points in a game numerous times in his career en route to a 24.2 points per game career average. Knee injuries cut his career short in 1980 and he died of a heart attack in 1988 while playing a pick up game.

8.)  Dominique Wilkins – Wilkins is a nine-time NBA All-Star who played for the Atlanta Hawks in the 1980′s. With a career average just under 25 points per game Wilkins is one of 12 NBA players to score more than 25,000 points in his career.  Wilkins’ only scoring title came in 1986 when he averaged 30.3 points.  Wilkins is best known for his highlight reel dunks that won him two slam dunk titles in 1985 and 1990. Despite being a career 32-point per game scorer in the postseason, Wilkins never reached the NBA Finals.

9.) Allen Iverson –  Iverson, who has had his name tossed around in rumors lately about a possible return to the NBA with the Lakers or playing ball in Puerto Rico with the likes of Rashad McCants, is one of the best, yet controversial players of all-time.  Iverson, who won the Rookie of the Year award in 1996, famously crossed over Jordan and showed the NBA that he had arrived.  He won four NBA scoring titles, was an 11-time All-Star, and the 2001 NBA MVP. In 2001 Iverson led the Philadelphia 76ers to his only NBA Finals appearance against the vaunted Los Angeles Lakers. In Game 1, Iverson had his way with the Shaquille O’Neal-led Lakers with 48 points giving L.A. their only loss of the post season.

10.) Reggie Miller – Miller, known for his trash talking antics, is arguably the best shooter of all-time.  Miller played all 18 years of his professional ball with the Indiana Pacers and was the career leader in three-pointers until he was passed by Boston Celtics’ Ray Allen.  Miller made one NBA Finals appearance in his career against the Lakers in 2000, but came out on the wrong side.

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About mwaterloo
I also am the WVU reporter for Ohio Valley Athletics (OVAthletics.com) covered the Orange Bowl and every home game as well as their basketball team. Sports editor at my college paper The Clarion Call (clarioncallnews.com) and covered Pittsburgh sports for the past two years for various sites. You can follow me on Twitter @MichaelWaterloo

3 Responses to Top 10 players to never win an NBA title

  1. Jim says:

    Good work but i think Dominique should be higher on the list. Maybe slide Ewing down.

  2. Justin Welton says:

    Good list, Mike.

  3. Michael S. says:

    D Wilkins should never be on a list of best anything in hoops. Sure he was entertaining, but didn’t have any defensive skills and look at his shooting % – dreadful! Probably THE most over rated player ever to play.

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