Saturday, May 31, 2008

NBA Super Stars Who Never Received a Championship Ring

It is with a heavy heart that I write this…Alas, my beloved Pistons will not be going to the finals once again. Beat out by Boston in an upset on their home court, the Pistons have let another chance for the championship slip through their hands yet again. Although the team has no super stars, the players are cohesive group that compliment each other. When I realized “The Fat Lady” was singing loud and clear, I found myself feeling badly for team members like McDyess, who played their hearts out only to come away empty handed.

In the midst of my pity party I remembered some of the truly great players who never received a ring. Here is a short list; there are others out there as well. Feel free to name players that were great, but the “bling” of the ring eluded them.

Karl Malone (1985-2004)

He's considered the one of the greatest power forwards of all time, but the mailman didn't deliver a title. The Utah Jazz went to the conference title twice, but sadly there was a man named Michael Jordan standing (or dunking) in Malone and the Jazz's way in 1997 and 1998. As a Los Angeles Laker he did get to the NBA Finals with Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant, but dreams of championship bling were shot down by the Detroit Pistons.

Charles Barkley (1984-2000)

Barkley could out-muscle and out-rebound anyone on the court, he had attitude, earned 11 NBA All-Star Game appearances and two Olympic gold medals and was always good for a colorful quote. But alas, never ever once did he win a NBA title. Barkley came close to championship glory in 1993, when he led the Phoenix Suns to a berth in the 1993 NBA Finals. However, the Suns lost to some fella named Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in six games.

Patrick Ewing (1985 - 2002)

It was "our year" ever year for the Knicks, and every year they and the big man fell short. His final years were plagued by injuries and he ended his career with the Orlando Magic in 2002.

Dominique Wilkins (1982-1999)

He was one of the best dunkers the game had ever seen, but he couldn't find a way past Larry Bird. The Atlanta Hawks' superstar never played in a single NBA Finals series.

John Stockton (1984-2003)

Regarded as one of the best point guards in NBA history, Stockton, like his Utah Jazz teammate, Karl Malone, had Air Jordan standing in his way of championship bling two consecutive years. Stockton retired in 2003 and was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History.

Reggie Miller (1987-2005)

Always a bridesmaid, never a bride, Reggie Miller's Pacers fell to the Lakers in their one appearance in the Finals. Sad? Yes, but not as heartbreaking as the five conference finals the team lost, which includes three Game 7s. Ouch.

Chris Webber (1993-2008)

Maybe if it wasn't for those missed free throws in the Kings' Game 7 OT loss to the Lakers in 2002 or the missed three-pointer at the buzzer in Game 7 against Minnesota in 2004, we could say that Webber would have a championship ring. Then again, who has time for should have-could have-would haves?

Elgin Baylor (1958-1972)

Baylor played in eight NBA Finals ... and lost them all. To say that was frustrating is quite the understatement. He called it quits during the 1971-72 seasons, becoming one of the first greats to retire without a championship ring.

Pete Maravich (1970-1980)

Long before Magic Johnson, 'Pistol Pete' was the showman on the court, perfecting behind-the-back and between-the-legs passes. However, his playoff record was a bit sketchy and he retired ring less.

Tim Hardaway (1989-2003)

Hardaway's Heat balled their way to the '97 conference finals ... until running into Michael Jordan and the Bulls, who destroyed them. Tough, but losing in the first-round to the eighth-seeded Knicks in '99 packs a bigger bite.

Adrian Dantley (1976-1991)

You know you're working with a little bad luck when the two teams that traded you, in Dantley's case: the Lakers and Pistons, win championships right after the deal ... without you.

Alex English (1976-1991)

A prolific scorer, English scored more points in the 80s than any other NBA player. Impressive? Yes, but his Denver teams were shutdown by the Lakers in his one trip to the conference finals.

Bernard King (1977-1993)

He had a shot with the Knicks, who took the Celtics to seven games before losing. Yet as great as King was, most of his teams were never in title contention with the exception of that 1984 Knicks team.

Bob Lanier (1970-1984)

His Pistons teams in the '70s were never in contention. During his 14 years in the NBA, Lanier scored 19,248 points, 9,698 rebounds, and 1,100 blocks, yet he retired in 1984 without ever winning an NBA title.

George Gervin (1972-1986)

When he was in the East it was the Bullets, in the West it was the Lakers that shot down 'The Iceman's title hopes. His famous finger roll and prolific scoring never made an appearance in an NBA championship.

Lenny Wilkens (1960-1975)

Scoring a Hall of Fame career and considered one of the greatest playmakers in NBA History, Wilkens never won an NBA championship ... as a player. However, as a coach, he led the Seattle SuperSonics to the '79 NBA title.

Chris Mullin (1985-2001)

Mullin played 787 games ... 33 playoff games ... and had 0 championship titles to show for it. In what looked like his chance to finally get a ring, the Warriors traded him to Indiana before the 1997-98 season. Yet the ring remained elusive as the Pacers lost in the conference finals twice and once to the Lakers in the finals.


Malcolm said...

At the end of game 6 the other night, I had to turn away from the TV screen when they had a shot of Antonio McDyess sitting on the bench. Detroit sports radio is going to be interesting to hear Monday morning. 'Sheed needs to go quick, fast, and in a hurry! His act has gotten old and he is becoming more of a hindrance with each season. I think that Flip should be shown the door too. I like some of the things he did, but I just don't see him getting the Pistons over the hump. I hope that Joe D. goes after Avery Johnson for the head coach position.

Regarding the retired NBA greats without a ring, I don't think you left anybody out. The thing that was really messed up about Elgin Baylor is that he retired in the early part of the 1971-72 season and the Lakers won the title that year.

X. Dell said...

When you think of other team sports, it's relatively rare for the greats of the game to play an entire career and never receive a championship ring. Right now, I'm hoping my Reds can comeback and give Griffey Jr. his first one.

pjazzypar said...


This should have been the lineup that got them back to the "big show". This is too good of a team not to have won another championship. My fear is that they have probably blown it. I agree that Skip need to be put out to pasture because the team needs a boost. The General (Johnson) might just the ticket.

I'll bet Elgin was mad enough to chew bricks when it became apparent that if he had just sat on the bench for one more season he would have gotten his ring. Say it with me now DAMN! DAMN! DAMN!

X. Dell,

Although I am not really a baseball fan, I hope your team makes it. Go Reds!

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