by Eldon Khorshidi / @eldonadam
When viewed in retrospect, the defining measure of an athlete’s success is obvious, and for a lot of guys, cruel and painful. No matter how many points you score, regular season games you win or highlights you produce, you’re not certified until you hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Fact is, many of the greatest basketball players to ever breathe have exited the hardwood with the unfortunate—and sometimes shameful—absence of a Championship ring.
LeBron. Melo. CP3. DWill. DRose. Durant. Dwight. All of these guys are phenomenal, out-of-this-world basketball players, but all are yet to achieve greatness at its highest level. In a matter of a few seasons, the window for some of the NBA’s elite to win a title will begin to wane, and before we know it, it’ll shut, with their legacies locked away for eternity and their shortcomings irreparable. Some eventually get over the hump—it took MJ seven years, Dirk 13 years, Gary Payton 17 years, and so on—but opportunities to win a Championship are few and far between.
Below are 10 of the best players to never win a ‘Chip. Although they ultimately fell short, we relive some epic single-game performances (and one highlight mix) that help demonstrate each player’s superb talent. There’s a wide range of guys on our list, from Pete Maravich to Reggie Miller to everyone in between. Not trying to downplay anyone’s accomplishments, but there’s a harsh reality at hand: the players in this gallery will forever remain ringless.
Note: There are a countless number of All-Stars and Hall-of-Famers who fit the bill, so for the purpose of narrowing the field, we’ve excluded guys who played in the ABA (George Gervin, Connie Hawkins, Artis Gilmore, Dan Issel, etc.) or later won a Championship as a coach (Lenny Wilkins). We’ve also excluded active players, and guys without good footage on YouTube—which really sucks—such as Elgin Baylor, Nate Thurmond, Walt Bellamy and many others.