It don’t mean a thing if you ain’t got that ring. This historic mentality has cursed many great players in NBA history, as several unbelievable talents never got the taste of a championship. That doesn’t diminish the fact they are still some of the greater players ever, but when we talk about the best of the best, we only include players with rings, as it significantly affects a player’s legacy. This is my list of the Top 10 players never to win it, and keep in mind I am only counting retired players. Here we go:
Honorable mentions: Chris Mullin, Grant Hill, Dikembe Mutombo, Sidney Moncrief, Bob Lanier, and George Gervin
#10 Tracy McGrady
19.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 4.4 apg
7x All-Star, 7x All-NBA, 2x Scoring Champ
“T-Mac” was one of the most electrifying scorers of the 2000s’, as he was the main guy with the Magic and the Rockets. Unfortunately, numerous injuries prevented him from achieving his maximum potential and keeping him from leading his teams to the promised land. Ironically he came the closest in 2013 when he was with the Spurs. Even though he was riding the pine, McGrady was seconds away from winning it, but then Ray Allen jumped and hit the shot of shots. So close, but so far.
#9 Reggie Miller
18.2 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 3.0 apg
5x All-Star, 3x All-NBA
One of the best shooters in NBA history had a long 18-year run with the Indiana Pacers, but he never managed to win it all. Reggie had some great runs, losing three times in Game 7’s in the Eastern Conference Finals. That’s what happens you play at the same time Jordan was running the league. He finally made it to the Finals in 2001, but another beast in the Lakers duo of Shaq & Kobe was too much.
#8 Dominique Wilkins
24.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 2.5 apg
9x All-Star, 7x All-NBA, 1x Scoring Champ
“The Human Highlight Film” is known for being one of the best dunkers in NBA history, but he was also a heck of a player. Nique’s career maybe is underrated in a way, but everybody who watched that era of basketball knows who he is. Wilkins is mostly remembered playing for the Hawks. He never made the Conference Finals, as his best run came in 1988, being bounced out by Larry Bird in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semis, even though he dropped 47 points.
#7 Patrick Ewing
21.0 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 2.4 bpg
11x All-Star, 7x All-NBA, 3x All-Defensive
The “Georgetown” big man is one of the more unfortunate players never to win it, as he played in the golden era of NBA centers. Ewing had to match up with guys like Hakeem, Shaq, David Robinson, and others on a nightly basis, as it led to him being the best center ever never to get a ring. He came close in 1994 but lost in the Finals to “The Dream” and the Rockets, and in 1999 his Knicks made it there again but only to lose to the Spurs with Ewing being out with injury.
#6 Steve Nash
14.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 8.5 apg
8x All-Star, 7x All-NBA, 2x MVP, 5x Assists Champ
The two-time MVP was the epitome of team basketball and the engine behind some of the best offenses in NBA history. The problem for Nash was that his style of play and his teams were built for regular season basketball and never translated successfully to playoff basketball. He never made it past the Conference Finals. (in part thanks to a Stoudemire & Diaw suspension)
#5 Allen Iverson
26.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 6.2 apg
11x All-Star, 7x All-NBA, 4x Scoring Champ, and 1x MVP
“The Answer” is widely recognized and loved in the whole NBA community as one of the biggest basketball icons from the early 2000s’. The combo guard was a sight to see on the court with his quick handle and flashy style of play mixed with a certain swagger he had on and off the court. The closest he came to winning it all was the 2001 NBA Finals, but AI couldn’t get through the Lakers led by Kobe & Shaq, as his Sixers lost 4-1.
#4 Charles Barkley
22.1 ppg, 11.7 rpg, 3.9 apg
11x All-Star, 11x All-NBA, 1x MVP
“Sir Charles” is known today as being one of the funnier NBA analysts, but he was a nasty man on the court. The undersized power forward was a force, dominating the boards and taking it coast to coast, combining speed, strength, and skill with the ball. All that talent wasn’t enough as Barkley only made the Finals in 1993, as he was on the other end of Bulls’ first three-peat.
#3 John Stockton
13.1 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 10.5 apg
10x All-Star, 11x All-NBA, 9x Assists Champ, 5x All-Defensive
Stockton is the true definition of a pure point guard. A true leader that could do it on both sides of the ball and only care about winning. How did a player like that end up ringless? It is the same pitfall most of these players had, and that is playing in a loaded era that just doesn’t allow everybody to win it. Losing back to back to Jordan and the Bulls was his best shot, as he just couldn’t get it done with his partner Malone.
#2 Karl Malone
25.0 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 3.6 apg
14x All-Star, 14x All-NBA, 2x MVP
“The Mailman” was one of the strongest players ever, as he was just a force inside and the perfect piece to feed off John Stockton. He had a great career with numerous accolades, but a championship isn’t one of them. Just like I said for Stockton before, losing back to back to Jordan and the Bulls was his best shot, as he just couldn’t get it done. Malone went back as a part of the Lakers in 2004 at the end of his career but still lost to the Detroit Pistons in 5.
#1 Elgin Baylor
27.4 ppg, 13.5 rpg, 4.3 apg
11x All-Star, 10x All-NBA
Nobody surprises me more to be on this list than the great Elgin Baylor. He was such a force in his heyday, scoring, rebounding, and doing it all for the Los Angeles Lakers. He lost a whopping four times in Game’s 7 of The NBA Finals. All of those games were tight and against his fierce rivals, the Boston Celtics. Elgin was putting up unbelievable numbers, but it wasn’t enough. Definitely, the player that was the closest to winning, but never to get it.