It was brought to my attention Thursday afternoon that some people’s opinion in the NBA aren’t very educated. This is a tweet from ESPN’s Chris Palmer:
Of course everyone is entitled to their opinion, but are Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson the top 2 players to never win a championship? It got me thinking, so I dug into some research and compiled my top 10 list of “Best Player Who’ve Never Won Anything.”
10. Adrian Dantley
Dantley, inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame in 2008, played 15 seasons in the NBA. Dantley finished his NBA career with a 24.3 points per game average, 6 NBA all star appearances and led the league in scoring twice. He ranks The Utah Jazz retired his number (4) in 2007. Dantley finished 9th on the NBA’s all time scoring list when he retired in 1991, having only played in one NBA Championship. That being the 1988-89 Championship versus the Lakers in which Dantley’s Pistons lost in 7 games.
9. Bernard King
Bernard King played 14 seasons in the NBA for 5 different teams. King had his greatest success as a member of the New York Knicks. In January 1984 King became the first player in 20 years to score 50 points in consecutive games. Also in 1984, on Christmas Day, he became just the 10th player in NBA history to score 60 points with his effort versus his former team the New Jersey Nets. King was a tremendous scorer, leading the league in scoring in 1985, and made 4 all star appearances. His knee injury in 1985 forced him to miss the 1985-86 season and significantly dampened his explosiveness. He is forgotten due to the other prolific scorers in his time (Dantley included).
8. Allen Iverson
Allen “The Answer” Iverson played in the league for 14 seasons. Iverson currently sits 19th on the NBA scoring list and is still actively playing in Turkey. While many didn’t like Iverson, he brought quite a look to the game. Standing only 6 feet tall, Iverson took a beating year in and year out. He led the Philadelphia 76ers to the teams first Championship series in 20 years. Iverson was an 11 time NBA all-star, 4 time NBA scoring champ and NBA MVP. While Iverson played in an era where Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal won 3 titles and little guys like Iverson didn’t stand much chance.
7. George Gervin
George “The Iceman” Gervin played 13 seasons in the ABA and NBA. The 6’7 guard/forward shot 51% during his NBA career with the Spurs and averaged 26 points a game. The Iceman was a 9 time NBA all-star, 4 time NBA scoring champ and named to the all NBA team 5 times. His #44 was retired by the San Antonio Spurs and he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1996. Gervin scored over 40 points in a game 68 times in his career plus 6 more in the playoffs. Most of his Spurs records have been surpassed by David Robinson and Tim Duncan. Gervin never made the finals while in the NBA.
6. Reggie Miller
Reggie Miller, who played 18 seasons for the Indiana Pacers, is known for his 3 point shooting. He alone scored 8 points in 8.9 seconds of the playoffs versus the New York Knicks (game 1) to win the game. Miller shot a career 39.5% from behind the arc, but was known for making the clutch shots. He took his Indiana Pacers to the teams only finals appearance in franchise history losing to Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal in the 2000 season. Playing in a time in which Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls were the best team in the East, it was hard for Miller to even sniff a shot at the NBA finals. Miller currently sits 14th on the NBA scoring list with just over 25,000 career points.
5. Patrick Ewing
Patrick Ewing entered the NBA with big shoes to fill, being called “the start of an era” by an unknown NBA scouting director. Ewing currently sits 18th on the NBA’s all time scoring list and 6th on the NBA’s all time blocks list. Having been in the same situation as many whose career was primarily played in the 1990′s, Ewing and the Knicks had to compete against Michael Jordan and the Bulls. The Knicks made the NBA finals one time (while Jordan was retired) in 1994 but lost to the Houston Rockets.
4. Pete Marivich
“Pistol” Pete Maravich didn’t have a long NBA career, but was very prolific. Drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in 1970, Maravich played 10 season in the NBA. The Pistol started his legacy in college averaging 44 points a game while at LSU. He averaged just over 24 points a game in the NBA. Knee problems forced Maravich to end his career short after the 1980 Eastern Conference Finals loss to Dr J’s 76ers. He only reached the postseason 4 times in his career, with his 9 playoff games for the Celtics in 1980 being the most of his career.
3. Charles Barkley
“Sir” Charles Barkley was another player who fell victim to playing in a time in which Michael Jordan won 6 NBA titles. Barkley currently ranks 23rd on the NBA all time scoring list, while playing in the league for 16 seasons. He once won the NBA MVP, was an 11 time NBA all-star and was a 5 time NBA all first team selection. His #34 is retired by the Phoenix Suns and the Philadelphia 76ers. Barkley retired as one of only four players in NBA history to record at least 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 4,000 assists for a career. Barkley only once reached the NBA finals, losing to Michael Jordan and the Bulls in 6 games.
2. John Stockton/Karl Malone
I put these two together as one for a reason, they played together for most of their careers. John Stockton played for 19 seasons with the Utah Jazz, while Karl Malone played for 19 seasons, 18 of which with the Jazz. Malone’s lone without Stockton was spent in LA with the Lakers trying to win that elusive NBA title. The Jazz did make two finals appearances, but were beaten both time by Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. Stockton finished his career as a 10 time NBA all-star, 9 time assist leader and 2 time steals leader; while Malone finished his career as 2 time NBA MVP, 14 time NBA all-star and 11 time NBA all first team. Both players have their jerseys hanging in the rafters, retired, by the Utah Jazz. This duo was guaranteed to make the playoffs, making it 18 straight seasons together, including 8 times in which the duo played 10 or more games in the playoffs. These two will always be remembered as two of the best to never win.
1. Elgin Baylor
Elgin Baylor is the best NBA player in history without a title. The 11 time all star made the NBA Finals a total of 8 times. Unfortunately for Baylor, his team came up short all 8 times. Not many players have made 8 NBA finals appearances period, let alone in one 13 year career. Baylor helped to resurrect a Lakers team that had finished a putrid 19-53 the season before he was drafted and take them to the finals shortly after his arrival. Baylor’s luck continued while he retired only 9 games into the 1971-72 season. This is the year that the Lakers would win a NBA championship. So elusive to Baylor yet so close as well. Baylor finished his career with a NBA Finals record of 61 points in a game (1962 game 5) and a record 71 points in a game (1960). He is not only recognized as the top player to never win a title, but also one of the greatest players in NBA history.
Sure there are a few players that were considered for the list and didn’t make it. The runners up (in no order) include: Carmelo Anthony, Alex English, Connie Hawkins, Dave Bing, Nate Thurmond, Steve Nash and Dominique Wilkins.
After looking into this list, I have to wonder why ESPN’s Chris Palmer tweeted this:
As I said before, we are all entitled to our opinions, but a player who has never sniffed a NBA Championship birth shouldn’t be considered as THE best to play who has never won.
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