There have always been players in the NBA who are just better than everyone else currently playing. In the mid-1990s, Michael Jordan was that player who stopped a lot of superstars from winning the championship because he was just too good.
Superstars like Karl Malone, John Stockton, Charles Barkley and Reggie Miller were all victims of circumstance. If any of them had the slightest opportunity to win a ring, they could have.
But because of Jordan dominating that era, they couldn't.
I'm not going to make any player comparisons, but we are in the midst of experiencing a similar situation, but with the Miami Heat. LeBron James is the best player in the world right now and it's not even close, and his team has reached the NBA Finals for the third consecutive year in a row.
Perhaps we are witnessing an era where James and the Heat are in the same position as Jordan's Chicago Bulls. They haven't dominated the playoffs like the 1990s Bulls, but they are still the most dominant team in the league and have silenced doubters every passing round.
Unfortunately, that doesn't bode well for the rest of the superstars in the league. There are handfuls of great players who might not ever win a championship in this era, primarily because of the Heat's dominance.
Carmelo Anthony's career has seen its ups and downs, but it's mainly been down. He's one of the best scorers—if not the best—in the league, but that's been the only thing he's been doing at a high level since coming into the league.
In his 10 years in the league, Anthony has only passed the first round of the playoffs twice and reached the Western Conference Finals once. For his career, Anthony has averaged 25.0 points per game and 6.4 rebounds per game on 45.6 percent shooting from the field, which also includes six All-Star selections and a scoring title this year (per Basketball Reference).
This season, he's been with the best and most experienced squad of players that has ever been around him, but he still couldn't carry them past the second round of the playoffs over the Indiana Pacers.
The blame shouldn't be on Anthony. But when his career is over and he doesn't win a ring, people will remember him as just another one-dimensional scorer who never experienced team success.
Chris Paul's impending free-agency decision will be the most important event this summer, but he's still undecided on where to go.
Paul is a top-two point guard in the league, and the only other point guard who can be put in the same category as him is Tony Parker. However, Paul got dealt to the Los Angeles Clippers two years ago and he proceeded to give new life to a struggling franchise. In the past two years, he has led the Clippers to the playoffs, but his team fell short on both occasions.
As great of a player as he is, Paul has experienced similar postseason frustrations—just like Anthony.
Fortunately, Paul's window is still wide open. He's only 28 years old and at the peak of his prime, but his recent postseason failures and questionable faith in the Clippers organization will probably mean he won't win a ring in the near future.
Dwight Howard is in the same situation as Paul. He's unsure if he could win a title with the current Los Angeles Lakers roster. In just a few years, Howard went from the best center in the league to a perennial drama queen.
In nine seasons, Howard has averaged 18.3 points, 12.9 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game on 57.7 percent shooting from the field. He's a seven-time All-Star, five-time All-NBA first-teamer and three-time Defensive Player of the Year. Howard's resume is already Hall of Fame worthy, but that championship ring has eluded him for the past few years.
After carrying a weak Orlando Magic team to the 2009 Finals, Howard has yet to reach that plateau again.
Howard will turn 28 midway through the 2013-14 season, and his time is running short. It's hard to see him winning a title with the Lakers any time soon, especially with the Western Conference being as competitive as ever. He may not even have a chance to battle it out against the Heat if he never gets to the Finals again.
Deron Williams may have had an off year, but he still managed to bounce back as the season progressed and finish with averages of 18.9 points and 7.7 assists per game.
The worst thing that happened to Williams was that he landed in the Eastern Conference. As the leader of one of the best teams in the East this year and in future years, there's a very high chance that they would have to go through the Heat if they want to have a shot at winning the title.
But this offseason didn't exactly start on a positive note for the Brooklyn Nets. Management fired another coach and hired the recently retired Jason Kidd (via USA Today).
For a team whose ceiling is relatively low and has six-time All-Star Joe Johnson showing signs of age at 31 years old, hiring someone with no coaching experience might not have been the smartest move.