Karl Malone and John Stockton had the misfortune of running into Michael Jordan in his prime.
NBA greatness often gets summed up in three words: count the rings.
As LeBron James, Michael Jordan and countless others can attest, a player's place among the all-time legends is questioned until he wins that first championship. It serves as validation of a player's dominance over his peers.
For some NBA stars, that validation either never came or still has yet to come.
Luckily, greatness isn't just defined by the number of NBA championship rings a player amasses over the course of his career. While those who won titles can always hold something over those who never did (see: O'Neal, Shaquille and Barkley, Charles, respectively), plenty of the league's legends still remain ringless.
Here, I've ranked the 25 best players never to win a championship based on four major factors: their career PER, win shares, statistical milestones and number of NBA Finals appearances. Any players with at least eight years of NBA service, either active or retired, are included, with the obvious caveat that the active players still have a chance to work their way off this list in the coming seasons.
Who ranks as the NBA's ultimate Lord of No Rings? Let's explore.
Note: Unless otherwise noted, all advanced statistics come from Basketball-Reference.
Carmelo Anthony (2003-Present)
Carmelo Anthony figures to still have plenty of time to remove himself from the list of the best NBA players to never win a championship, but he's also not getting any younger. Barring a swath of injuries across the Eastern Conference over the next few years, the New York Knicks may have blown their best chance at winning a title during the 2013 playoffs.
Anthony has been one of the league's most fearsome scorers since being drafted in 2003, but that's the only truly elite part of his game. If he expanded his offensive repertoire or put forth a consistent effort on the defensive end, he'd move higher on this list.
Grant Hill (1994-2013)
Had injuries not derailed his career in the early 2000s, Grant Hill would be a lock for a top-25 spot on this list. He ranks sixth all time in terms of career triple-doubles (29), all of which occurred within his first five NBA seasons.
Unfortunately for Hill (and for NBA fans), he fractured his left foot near the end of the 1999-00 season, tried to play through the pain, and was never the same again. During his six years with the Orlando Magic in the early to mid-2000s, he appeared in a total of 200 games and often looked like a shell of his former triple-double-dishing self.
Dwight Howard (2004-Present)
Like Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard still figures to have a number of years ahead of him to remove himself from the ranks of the ringless. After being traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in the summer of 2012, he appeared destined for a championship in the next few seasons, but injuries derailed those plans almost immediately.
Howard's upcoming free agency should prove to be a fascinating look into what he deems most important in his career. If he's interested in money and marketing, he'll stick with the glitz and glamour in Los Angeles, but the Houston Rockets appear to present him with a better opportunity to win a championship in the next few years.
Tracy McGrady (1997-Present)
Considering that Tracy McGrady never made it past the first round of the playoffs until 2013, it's tough to rank him too highly here. He also could be weeks away from winning his first championship ring, depending on how the San Antonio Spurs fare in the 2013 NBA Finals.
With that said, he's a borderline Hall of Famer who made his name as one of the league's most feared scorers in the early 2000s. With career per-game averages of 19.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.4 assists, T-Mac deserves at least an honorable mention here.
Dave Bing helped usher in the era of point guards who specialize in both scoring and distributing.
The No. 2 overall pick by the Detroit Pistons in 1966, Bing started his career by averaging 20 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game in his first season. He took home the 1967 Rookie of the Year award as a result, then led the NBA in total points scored (2,142) as a sophomore.
Throughout his first eight seasons with the Pistons, the former Syracuse Orangeman averaged roughly 22 points, six assists and four rebounds per game. Over the course of his career, Bing posted per-game averages of 20 points, six dimes and four boards.
He received seven All-Star bids, including the 1976 All-Star Game MVP award, and three All-NBA nods during his 12-year career. The NBA named him one of the league's 50 greatest players in 1996, and the Basketball Hall of Fame inducted him in the class of 1990.
Bing never made it to the NBA Finals, but his scoring and passing ability justify his spot here. He currently ranks 43rd all time in assists (5,397) and 60th in points (18,327), but his career PER of 17.6 is only slightly above league average.
Lenny Wilkens holds the unique distinction of having been inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame three times: once for his NBA playing career; a second time with the 1992 "Dream Team," for which he served as an assistant coach; and lastly for his NBA coaching career.
We'll focus here on his playing career only.
The St. Louis Hawks drafted Wilkens sixth overall in 1960 and made it to the NBA Finals that season despite receiving somewhat minimal contributions from him. As his minutes and role grew, so too did his per-game stats, jumping to roughly 17 points, six assists and five rebounds over his final four seasons with the team.
When the Hawks traded him away to the Seattle SuperSonics in October 1968, Wilkens only further boosted his assists total. The nine-time All-Star led the league in both total assists (683) and assists per game (9.1) during the 1969-70 season, then held the league lead in total assists again two years later.
Currently, Wilkens ranks 12th all time in assists (7,211), 66th in points (17,772) and 224th in rebounds (5,030), and is one of only five players with at least 20,000 points, 7,000 assists and 5,000 rebounds to his name, along with Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson, Gary Payton and Jason Kidd. Despite falling short in his one and only finals appearance, Wilkens should be remembered as one of the best players from his era.
Chris Mullin never could win an NBA championship ring, but two Olympic gold medals isn't such a bad consolation prize.
Back in 1984, when professionals were still banned from competing in the Olympics, Mullin was one of the college players chosen to represent Team USA. After bringing home the gold, Mullin won the 1985 Wooden Award and his third straight Big East Player of the Year in his final year with St. John's.
The Golden State Warriors drafted him seventh overall in 1985, but besides scoring, his per-game contributions were negligible as a rookie. By his fourth season (1988-89), though, Mullin jumped up to averaging 26.5 points, 5.9 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 2.1 steals per game, levels he'd maintain for the following four years.
In those "Run TMC" years in the late 1980s and early '90s, Mullin earned five straight All-Star berths and received four straight All-NBA team nods. He often ranked among the league's top 10 in terms of points, steals and made free-throw attempts during this era.
When the Olympics lifted the ban on professional basketball players, Mullin was one of the 12 players invited to be a part of the 1992 "Dream Team." Spending a summer dominating the rest of the world with some of the best basketball players in NBA history likely takes some sting out of never winning a title.
Nate Thurmond won't be as recognizable of a name as many of the players featured here, but the 6'11" big man deserves at least fringe top-20 consideration.
The then-San Francisco Warriors drafted Thurmond third overall in 1963, and he quickly evolved into one of the best shot-blockers and rebounders in the decade. After only averaging 7.0 points and 10.4 rebounds as a rookie, Thurmond started putting up about 20 rebounds per game during each of the next six seasons.
Although blocks weren't officially tracked until the 1973-74 season, one can only imagine how many shots Thurmond rejected in his early years while playing roughly 40 minutes per game. He ranks 198th all time in blocks (553) despite only having blocks tracked in four of his 14 seasons.
Rebounds, however, were tracked for his entire 14-year career. That helps explain why he ranks fifth all time in rebound-per-game average (15.0) and eighth in total rebounds (14,464).
Thurmond appeared in the NBA Finals twice with the Warriors in the 1960s, but the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers, respectively, proved to be too much to handle. With seven All-Star appearances, five All-Defensive team nods and a place in the Basketball Hall of Fame, Thurmond deserves a place here.
Until Carmelo Anthony came to town, Bernard King pretty much had the "best scoring forward in New York Knicks history" title under wraps.
The then-New Jersey Nets drafted him seventh overall in 1977, and he exploded right on the scene with 24.2 points and 9.5 rebounds per game as a rookie. Despite only slightly tailing off in his second year, the Nets sent him bouncing around the league for the next few seasons.
Once he landed in New York right before the 1982-83 season, he had his first real opportunity to latch on to a team. He quickly went from averaging 21.9 points per game in his first season with the Knicks to leading the league in scoring with 32.9 points per game two years later.
A torn ACL in March of 1985 halted King's rise to superstardom and forced him to miss the entirety of the next season. When he came back, the knee injury deprived him of some quickness, causing the Knicks to release him upon the conclusion of the 1987 season.
He currently stands 41st all time in points (19,655) and within the top 250 in rebounds (5,060), assists (2,863) and steals (866), speaking to his overall impact, despite the injury. One thing the Hall of Famer lacks?
An NBA Finals appearance.
Despite never winning an NBA championship, Adrian Dantley was one of the most prolific scorers throughout the 1980s.
Dantley began his NBA career being drafted sixth overall by the then-Buffalo Braves in 1976. As a rookie, he posted per-game averages of 20.3 points and 7.6 rebounds en route to the 1977 Rookie of the Year award.
The future Hall of Famer bounced around the league for the next few years, being traded to the Indiana Pacers in September 1977 and to the Los Angeles Lakers three months later, before finally settling in Utah starting in September 1979. From there, he erupted as an offensive force.
During his first season in Utah, Dantley averaged 28.0 points per game and then ripped off four straight seasons where he finished with at least 30 points per game. He led the league in scoring in 1980-81 (30.7 points per game) and 1983-84 (30.6 points per game), which helped him secure six All-Star berths in seven years beginning in 1980.
A.D. currently ranks 25th on the NBA's all-time points leaderboard (23,177), and he's one of only 13 players in league history with at least 22,500 points, 5,000 rebounds, 2,500 assists and 900 steals under his belt. He fell short of a title in his one NBA Finals appearance with the Detroit Pistons in 1988, and then was traded midway through the 1988-89 season to the Dallas Mavericks.
Chris Paul may only be halfway through his career, but it's already become clear that he's a once-in-a-generation guard.
He came into the league in 2005 as the No. 4 overall draft pick by the New Orleans Hornets, then led the NBA in total steals (175) as a rookie. Per-game averages of 16.1 points, 7.8 assists, 5.1 rebounds and 2.2 steals helped him secure the 2006 Rookie of the Year award.
Through his first eight seasons, CP3 led the league five times in steals per game and twice in assists per game. Despite his diminutive 6'0" frame, he's one of the feistier defenders at the point guard position (when he isn't flopping, of course).
Historically speaking, he already ranks 42nd all time in assists (5,449) and 56th in steals (1,331). The six-time All-Star also possesses the sixth-highest career PER (25.5) in NBA history at the moment.
It appears unlikely that Paul will leave the Los Angeles Clippers in 2013 free agency, meaning that for the foreseeable future, his partnership with Blake Griffin is his one and only ticket to an NBA title. After being knocked out in the first round of the playoffs in 2013, Paul, Griffin and Co. have work to do.
Chris Webber was one of the NBA's best big men throughout the 1990s and early 2000s but never seized the chance to win a championship before retiring in 2008.
The Orlando Magic drafted the former Fab Five member with the No. 1 overall pick in 1993 but traded him on draft night to the Golden State Warriors for Penny Hardaway and three future first-round draft picks (two of which turned out to be Vince Carter and Mike Miller).
C-Webb averaged 17.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.2 blocks per game in his first season with the Dubs, leading to him being named the 1994 Rookie of the Year. A longstanding feud with Warriors coach Don Nelson led to him being traded to the then-Washington Bullets the very next season.
Across the late '90s and early '00s, Webber racked up five All-Star Game berths and five straight All-NBA nods (1998-2003). As a highly talented and versatile big man, he appears all over the NBA statistical leaderboards: 51st in blocks (1,200), 59th in rebounds (8,124), 79th in steals (1,197), 80th in points (17,182) and 133rd in assists (3,526).
Webber only made two conference final appearances in his career—once with the Sacramento Kings in 2002 and once with the Detroit Pistons in 2007—and neither ended with him advancing to the finals. His versatility and presence on a vast range of all-time statistical leaderboards help make his case for being one of the NBA's greats, ring or no ring.
Artis Gilmore does own one championship ring from his professional basketball days, but it comes from the now-defunct American Basketball Association, not the NBA.
Gilmore started his professional career with the ABA's Kentucky Colonels in the 1971-72 season and hit the ground running. He averaged 23.8 points, 17.8 rebounds and 5.0 blocks per game in his rookie season en route to both the 1972 ABA Rookie of the Year award and the 1972 ABA MVP award.
After leading the ABA in rebounds for four of the league's final five seasons, Gilmore made the transition to the NBA, being drafted by the Chicago Bulls with the No. 1 overall pick in the ABA dispersal draft. He wasn't able to put up the same video game-esque rebounding totals in the NBA as he did in the ABA, but he did average at least 10 rebounds per game for eight of his first nine NBA seasons.
The man known as "The A-Train" led the NBA in field-goal percentage for four straight seasons (from 1980-81 through 1983-84), and finished his NBA career ranked 22nd in blocks (1,747) and 44th in rebounds (9,161). He earned six All-Star berths during his 12-year NBA career and still holds the all-time league lead in field-goal percentage (.599).
Despite his wide list of accomplishments, Gilmore never made an appearance in the NBA Finals. The ABA ring likely helps remove some of the sting for the Hall of Famer, however.
Vince Carter's career playoff history isn't much to write home about, but there's no denying his impact on the NBA throughout the late 1990s and 2000s.
The Golden State Warriors originally selected Carter with the No. 5 pick in the 1998 draft, but the Toronto Raptors quickly swooped in and acquired him via a draft-day trade. He'd spend the first six years of his career bringing "Vinsanity" to Toronto before moving on to New Jersey, Orlando, Phoenix and Dallas in his later years.
Carter won the 1999 Rookie of the Year award after averaging 18.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.1 steals per game throughout his first year in the NBA. From there, he'd go on to post 10 straight seasons where he averaged at least 20 points per game.
The eight-time All-Star currently ranks 27th all time in points scored (22,223), about 900 points behind Elgin Baylor. Assuming he continues averaging at least 10 points per game over the next two or three seasons, he'd have a realistic shot of cracking the top 20 before retiring.
He couldn't be much more unlucky in terms of NBA Finals appearances, though. He was traded to the then-New Jersey Nets roughly a season-and-a-half after they made it to back-to-back finals, then joined the Orlando Magic (in 2009) and Dallas Mavericks (in 2011) as both teams were coming off finals appearances of their own.
Take one look at any of the NBA's all-time statistical leaderboards and you'd be hard-pressed not to encounter Bob Lanier's name at some point.
The Detroit Pistons selected Lanier with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1970 draft, and he quickly began rewarding their faith in him. After averaging 15.6 points and 8.1 rebounds per game as a rookie, he finished among the league's top 10 scorers and rebounders in each of the next four seasons.
The 6'11" giant averaged just over 20 points and 10 rebounds per game over the course of his entire career. He ranks 35th on the NBA's rebounding leaderboard (9,698), 45th in points (19,248), tied for 66th in blocks (1,110) and 183rd in assists (3,007).
Lanier is just one of seven players in league history to have recorded at least 19,000 points, 9,000 rebounds, 3,000 assists and 1,100 blocks, alongside Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, Shaquille O'Neal and Hakeem Olajuwon. There's a reason the Hall of Fame came calling for Lanier in 1992, after all.
The big man never competed in the NBA Finals during his 14-year career, which somewhat limits how far he can rise up this list of best-ever players without a championship. Given his place among the league's all-time scoring, rebounding and blocking leaders, he's the perfect player to round out the top 15.
It worked out well for NBA fans that Dikembe Mutombo, owner of the greatest shot-blocking celebration ever, ended up with the second-most blocks in league history (3,289).
The seven-plus-footer's shot-blocking ability guided him to four Defensive Player of the Year awards throughout his career, marking his reputation as one of the greatest defenders of all time.
After being drafted fourth overall by the Denver Nuggets in 1991, Mutombo led the league in blocks per game from his third season through his fifth. He led the league in total blocks for five straight years, from 1993-94 through 1997-98, and finished with the most total rebounds in four of his first nine years.
Mutombo's per-game scoring average of 9.8 points doesn't scream superstar, but his value on defense more than compensated for what he lacked offensively. He helped key the first No. 8-over- No. 1 seed upset in NBA playoff history back in 1994, guiding the Nuggets over the Seattle SuperSonics with 31 blocks in the five-game series.
The big man appeared in the NBA Finals twice (in 2001 and 2003), but couldn't capitalize on the opportunity either time. The combination of Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker left Mutombo ringless for his entire 18-year career.
After a relatively modest start to his career, Alex English emerged as one of the most deadly scorers in the NBA during the 1980s.
The Milwaukee Bucks drafted him with the sixth pick of the second round in the 1976 NBA draft, but the team largely buried him on the bench for his first two seasons. He went to the Indiana Pacers in 1978 as a free agent, where he began to flourish as a scorer but didn't reach his full stride until being traded to the Denver Nuggets in February 1980.
From there, English exploded in an all-out scoring frenzy over the next decade. He finished as the NBA's leading scorer in the 1980s with 21,133 total points and took home the 1983 scoring title with an average of 28.4 points per game.
He earned eight straight All-Star berths from 1982 to '89 while playing for the Nuggets and was named to the All-NBA second team three times during the '80s. Currently, English ranks 13th all time in points scored (25,613), 74th in assists (4,351), 112th in blocks (833), 120th in steals (1,067) and 124th in rebounds (6,538).
Despite never making an appearance in the NBA Finals, English was inducted into the Hall of Fame back in 1997. He's one of only six players in league history who accrued at least 25,000 points, 6,000 rebounds, 4,000 assists and 1,000 steals over the course of his career.
It's no exaggeration to say Steve Nash ushered in a new era of NBA basketball during the mid-2000s.
With coach Mike D'Antoni at the helm and a born pick-and-roll player in Amar'e Stoudemire by his side, Nash orchestrated the "Seven Seconds or Less" Phoenix Suns to perfection. Teams began emulating the up-tempo style of play once they realized just how effective it had the potential to be.
That time spent with D'Antoni helped Nash climb the ranks of the NBA's all-time assists leaderboard, where he currently sits fourth with 10,249 career dimes. The two-time league MVP is one of only four players in league history to have at least 15,000 points, 10,000 assists and 800 steals to his name.
When Nash joined the Los Angeles Lakers during the summer of 2012, it appeared that his nearly two-decade-long drought of being without an NBA championship would finally come to an end. Instead, he suffered a fractured fibula in his left leg two games into the season, sending the Lakers into a tailspin from which they'd never fully recover.
Now, with Dwight Howard poised to leave the Lakers in free agency after spending only one year in L.A., and Kobe Bryant recovering from a torn Achilles tendon, Nash's chances of winning a ring look dimmer than ever. The lack of NBA Finals appearances remains the one major blemish on his career resume, but he's still virtually a Hall of Fame lock once he hangs up his basketball shoes for good.
"Pistol" Pete Maravich was a basketball dynamo before even setting foot in the NBA.
It's been more than 40 years since he starred in college at Louisiana State University, but Maravich still ranks as the NCAA's all-time leading scorer, having averaged over 40 points per game during his collegiate career. He also holds the record for the most points scored in a single season (1,381), which helped him earn the 1970 Naismith Player of the Year award.
Upon being drafted by the Atlanta Hawks with the No. 3 overall pick in 1970, the Pistol wasted no time demonstrating his scoring acumen. He dropped 23.2 points per game as a rookie, earning a spot on the 1970-71 All-Rookie first team.
Throughout the rest of the 1970s, Maravich was one of the league's most feared scorers. He led the NBA in scoring during the 1976-77 season with 31.3 points per game, earning five All-Star berths and four All-NBA nods in the process.
Knee problems forced Maravich into retirement at only 32 years old, which limited his ability to rise up the NBA's all-time statistical leaderboards. Despite never appearing in the NBA Finals, the Hall of Famer should be remembered as one of the league's most talented players to never win a ring.
After spending the early 1970s in the now-defunct American Basketball Association, George "The Iceman" Gervin and the San Antonio Spurs brought their talents to the NBA in 1976.
For the next 10 years, he tore apart the league with his silky-smooth shooting ability. Gervin led the league four times in scoring (both in terms of points per game and total points scored) over a five-year span during the late 1970s and early 1980s.
The Iceman's finger roll became his trademark shot, which helped him maintain his lethal scoring ability into his early 30s. He finished his NBA career averaging 26.2 points per game and ranks 36th all time in total points scored (20,708).
Despite only playing 10 years in the NBA, Gervin earned nine trips to the All-Star Game and was named a member of the All-NBA teams seven times. His domination over the NBA and ABA gained him entry into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1996.
Gervin never made it to the NBA Finals, which prevents him from rising any higher in the ranks of the best players devoid of a championship. Over 25 years after retiring, however, the Iceman still remains one of the most feared shooting guards in NBA history.
Dominique Wilkins might be best remembered for his epic Slam Dunk Contest wars with Michael Jordan in the mid-1980s, but there's far more to him than just that.
Wilkins, the No. 3 overall pick in 1982, currently sits 11th on the NBA's all-time scoring leaderboard, having recorded 26,668 points over his 15-year career. He's also ranked 50th all time in steals (1,378), 86th in total rebounds (7,169) and tied for 235th in assists (2,677).
The longtime Atlanta Hawks star is one of only five players with at least 25,000 points, 7,000 rebounds, 2,500 assists and 1,200 steals to his name, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Kevin Garnett and Hakeem Olajuwon. He's a nine-time All-Star who earned seven All-NBA odds and led the league in scoring during the 1985-86 season.
Of course, one doesn't simply receive the nickname "The Human Highlight Film" without being a freakish athlete. After earning his first Slam Dunk Contest championship in 1985, Wilkins and Jordan squared off in 1988 in what's known as the best dunk contest of all time. (He lost to Jordan that year, but did later take home the 1990 dunk contest title.)
Wilkins never appeared in the NBA Finals, which bumps him down a place or two here. With that said, his Hall of Fame career justifies his top-10 place on this list, despite the lack of NBA Finals berths.
The name Walt Bellamy might not ring a bell like some of the other top players featured here, but he's just as worthy of being labeled as a top ringless NBA star as any.
Bellamy began his career with the then-Chicago Packers as the No. 1 overall pick in the 1961 draft and went straight to work, averaging 31.6 points and 19.0 rebounds per game as a rookie. Those insane per-game statistics helped the big man secure the 1962 Rookie of the Year award.
The four-time All-Star never reached those per-game statistical heights again, but he still carved out quite a productive 14-year career as he bounced between teams. He finished with 14,241 rebounds, the ninth-highest total in NBA history, and 20,941 points, which puts him 32nd on the NBA's all-time leaderboard.
With 130.05 total win shares to his name, the Hall of Famer ranks 32nd all time in that regard. He's also one of only four players to finish his career with at least 20,000 points, 14,000 rebounds and 2,500 assists, alongside Karl Malone, Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
While Bellamy might not be as immediately recognizable as Chamberlain, Bob Lanier or Bill Russell, make no mistake: He was one of the NBA's shining stars throughout the 1960s. The one major ding on his resume is his lack of NBA Finals appearances, for which he can largely thank the Boston Celtics.
Reggie Miller is generally regarded as one of the best pure shooters in league history.
Up until being surpassed by Ray Allen during the 2010-11 season, Miller held the all-time record for made three-point field goals (2,560). Allen also broke Miller's hold on the all-time record for most postseason three-point field goals (320) in the first round of the 2013 playoffs.
The longtime Indiana Pacers shooting guard ranks 14th on the NBA's all-time leaderboard for points scored (25,279), 39th in steals (1,505) and 91st in assists (4,141). He's one of only five players in NBA history to accrue at least 25,000 points, 4,000 total rebounds, 4,000 assists and 1,500 steals, alongside Karl Malone, Michael Jordan, Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant.
Despite playing for nearly two decades, Miller only made one appearance in the NBA Finals, losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2000. He did wage some epic playoff wars with the New York Knicks throughout the 1990s, though, including his infamous eight-points-in-nine-seconds outburst in 1995.
Because of his prowess from long range, the lack of a championship ring wasn't enough to keep the five-time All-Star out of the Hall of Fame. That shooting ability is also a major reason he ranks among the top 10 players who failed to win a title.
Of all the superstars in NBA history who failed to win a championship, Allen Iverson may be the most polarizing.
The No. 1 pick in the 1996 draft quickly morphed the Philadelphia 76ers from a basement-dweller into a legitimate championship contender, but Iverson never had enough help to get the Sixers over the top.
A.I. finished his career ranked 12th all time in steals (1,983), 19th in points (24,368) and 38th in assists (5,624). For a man with the nickname "Bubba Chuck," the assist total in particular stands out as proof that he was more than just a superstar scorer back in the day.
You can't discuss the 2001 league MVP without bringing up his subpar career field-goal percentage of .425, but take one look at the late 1990s and early 2000s Sixers rosters and you'll see why shooting efficiency tended to bypass him. It's not easy to get open shots when opponents hardly have to worry about defending many of your teammates.
If LeBron James gets praised for singlehandedly dragging the Cleveland Cavaliers to the 2007 Finals, Iverson deserves that same recognition for bringing the Sixers to the 2001 Finals. The 11-time All-Star could work magic on the court, but no one could win a championship against the Kobe Bryant-Shaquille O'Neal Los Angeles Lakers with the supporting cast that Iverson had.
Nearly 20 years after being selected No. 1 in the 1985 NBA draft, Patrick Ewing still gets brought up by conspiracy theorists as proof that the draft is rigged.
Coming into the league, Ewing had led his Georgetown Hoyas to three Final Fours and one NCAA championship (1984), making him the ultimate prize of the first-ever draft lottery. According to legend, the New York Knicks' envelope was tossed into the lottery machine in such a way that it bent a corner, allowing commissioner David Stern to know exactly which envelope he was choosing.
Ewing ended up being a more-than-worthy selection at No. 1 for New York, despite him never bringing a title to the city. He finished his career ranked sixth all time in blocks (2,894), 18th in points (24,815) and 24th in rebounds (11,607), and is one of only six players in NBA history to record at least 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 2,500 blocks in his career.
The Knicks legend currently ranks 34th all time in total win shares (126.45) and 43rd in career PER (21.01). Of the players featured here, he's got the eighth-best win shares total and 11th-best PER.
The big man made two appearances in the NBA Finals, in 1994 and 1999, but wasn't able to push the Knicks past the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs, respectively. His 11 All-Star appearances, seven All-NBA nods, two Olympic gold medals and the 1986 Rookie of the Year award will have to suffice.
John Stockton remains one of the best pure point guards to ever play in the NBA, despite never winning a championship during his 19-year career.
The longtime Utah Jazz floor general still ranks first all time in both career assists (15,806) and steals (3,265). There's no one even close to overthrowing him in either category, amazingly enough.
The pairing of Stockton and Karl Malone gave the Jazz one of the league's most fearsome one-two punches from the mid-1980s through the 1990s. If not for Michael Jeffrey Jordan getting in the way, Stockton would almost certainly be a one-, if not two-time NBA champion.
He ranks fifth all time in total win shares (207.7), trailing only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, Malone and Jordan, and sits 31st all time in career PER (21.8). With statistical accomplishments like those, the Hall of Fame likely started preparing his bust immediately upon his retirement.
Stockton earned 11 appearances on All-NBA teams (including two first-team nods), 10 All-Star berths, and five spots on NBA All-Defensive teams over the course of his career. A championship would only have been icing on the cake for his Hall of Fame resume.
No discussion of ringless NBA legends can be complete without bringing up Charles Barkley.
The man known as "Sir Charles" remains one of the most dominant power forwards in league history, despite only clocking in at 6'6". He ranks 18th all-time in rebounds (12,546), 21st in steals (1,648) and 23rd in points (23,757), and is one of only four players to record at least 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 1,500 steals throughout his career.
The so-called "Round Mound of Rebound" wasn't afraid to throw his weight around in the paint, making him a nightmare for opponents both offensively and defensively. With career per-game averages of 22.1 points and 11.7 rebounds, it's no surprise that he finished with the second-highest PER (24.6) and third-most win shares (177.2) of any player featured here.
Barkley took home the 1993 MVP award by averaging 25.6 points, 12.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game, which prevented Michael Jordan from winning three straight regular-season MVPs. Jordan got his revenge in the 1993 Finals, though, by closing out Barkley's Phoenix Suns in six games.
Despite falling short of ever winning a championship, there's no questioning Barkley's place in NBA history. He became a lock for the Hall of Fame the second he retired, ring or no ring.
Besides actually winning a championship, Karl "The Mailman" Malone delivered in just about every meaningful way possible during his 19-year career.
The 2010 Hall of Fame inductee and two-time league MVP was a stat-stuffer for nearly two full decades. He currently ranks second all time in total points scored (36,928), sixth in total rebounds (14,968), 10th in steals (2,085), 48th in assists (5,248) and 58th in blocks (1,145).
Only three players in NBA history have at least 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 5,000 assists to their name: Malone, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Kevin Garnett. He's in highly rarefied company, statistically speaking.
Of the 25 players featured here, Malone leads them all in terms of career win shares (234.6) and ranks third in career PER (23.9). Paired with John Stockton, the duo became one of the most legendary two-man combinations in league history.
Malone made three appearances in the NBA Finals—twice with the Utah Jazz in 1997 and 1998, and once in the final season of his career (2004) with the Los Angeles Lakers—but fell short all three times. Even without a championship to his name, Malone ranks as one of the best NBA players in league history.
Despite competing in eight NBA Finals, Elgin Baylor never could push his Los Angeles Lakers to the championship finish line.
Otherwise, the former No. 1 overall pick was an absolute beast.
As a rookie in 1958-59, Baylor averaged 24.9 points and 15.0 rebounds per game, securing the 1959 Rookie of the Year award in the process. He also took home the All-Star Game MVP his rookie year after ending the night with 24 points and 11 boards.
He never really slowed down from there, averaging 27.4 points and 13.5 rebounds per game over his 14-year career. The career Laker earned 10 All-NBA nods and 11 All-Star appearances, establishing himself as one of the league's greatest players in the 1960s.
Nagging knee troubles ended up forcing Baylor's retirement early in the 1971-72 season, and the timing couldn't have been much more unfortunate. The very next game after Baylor retired, the Lakers kicked off their still-league-record 33-game win streak and later won the 1972 NBA championship against the New York Knicks.
The Lakers gave Baylor a championship ring despite being inactive for the playoffs, but he would eventually sell that ring for $132,000 during an auction in the spring of 2013.