Also seen at Celtics 17
There's one topic players throughout the league agree about.
It's that winning a championship is the greatest feeling you could ever have.
The ultimate accomplishment, the most significant achievement, and the most memorable moment of glory.
Sadly, not all players, even greats, are able to win championships.
And those greats especially are deprived of something extraordinary. Deprived of hoisting that Larry O'Brien trophy high in the air so all can see. Deprived of raising the banner the subsequent season as proof that they were champions.
Deprived of winning on the most important stage, and having the privilege to say that you were victorious in the Finals. In some cases, players are not elected into the Hall Of Fame simply because they weren't winners in the Association.
But which players are seen as "the best of the best (that did not win a ring)?" To answer that question, I've compiled a list of the top five players to never win a championship.
5. Patrick Ewing: Despite the Knicks appearing in the playoffs multiple times during Ewing's career, the celebrated center never won a title. Ewing has been a member of the Hall Of Fame since 2008, in a class which included Hakeem Olajuwon and Adrian Dantley.
Ewing is an 11-time All-Star, and was part of an All-NBA team seven times (six times appointed to second team, one time named to first team).
Ewing was an active player when the NBA named its top 50 players in honor of its 50th anniversary. However, although his career was not yet over, he was still selected as a member of the historic list.
The Hoya Destroya matched up against some of the most feared centers ever, including Shaquille O'Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon, Robert Parish, and David Robinson. He's the Knicks franchise leader in points, rebounds, blocked shots, and games played.
In short, you could make a very solid argument that Ewing is the greatest Knickerbocker in the team's history.
The lowest point in Ewing's career was perhaps when the Knicks fell to Olajuwon's Rockets in the 1994 NBA Finals. The Knicks collapsed in games 6 and 7, two games in which the Rockets won with not many ticks left on the clock. Ewing made the playoffs in years after, but never came as close as he was that season.
4. John Stockton: John Stockton is unquestionably one of the most entertaining and talented point guards to ever set foot on a basketball court.
He is the league's all-time leader in both assists in steals, both categories which he has a substantial lead over the second place holder. He also wrangled 19,711 points in the span of 19 years, all of which were played with the Utah Jazz.
Stockton is also featured in the NBA's 50 Greatest Players list, as well as a member of the Hall Of Fame, which he was recently voted into (2009). Stockton is a 10-time All-Star as well, two years even winning the All-Star game's MVP. He is an 11-time member of the All-NBA team, two times being chosen as a first team player.
3. Karl Malone: Malone was a long-time teammate of John Stockton, playing with the point guard for 18 years before leaving Utah to go to the Lakers after Stockton announced his retirement. Malone is not yet a member of the Hall Of Fame, as he retired one year after Stockton and was not eligible for nomination this year.
He decided to hang up his shoes after failing to win a championship with LA in the 2003-04 season. Unfortunately for Malone, the Lakers had won a championship each of the three years prior to the '03-04 season, but were not successful in the one year Malone had joined the team.
The NBA saw Malone as one of the league's 50 best players in history, too. Malone is the record holder for most free throws attempted and sunk, as well as first in defensive rebounds. He is behind Kareem Abdul Jabbar for the most scored baskets, with 36,928 points.
The Mailman may have delivered everything but a championship in his prosperous career.
2. Charles Barkley: Charles Barkley is not only amusing in the announcing booth, but on the basketball court, as well. The Round Mound of Rebound is one of only four players to ever record over 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, and 4,000 assists. All of this was accumulated over the course of his 16 year career in the NBA.
The most remembered segment of his career was his time with the Philadelphia 76ers. Barkley spent more time in Philly than any other individual team, playing as a 76er for eight years. Barkley was drafted in 1984, two picks after Michael Jordan, who had been selected third that year.
Barkley entered his first year accompanied by greats such as Julius Erving, Moses Malone, and Maurice Cheeks, three stars crucial to Philly's championship which was won the year prior to Barkley's arrival.
Although Barkley's addition was expected to give the Sixers yet another championship, they eventually fell to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals. The rookie Barkley averaged 14.9 points and 11.1 rebounds in his first ever NBA postseason.
1. Elgin Baylor: Elgin Baylor is possibly one of the most underrated NBA players in the history of the game. During his era, he was seen as the Michael Jordan of basketball. Many consider him to be the greatest offensive power ever, as he averaged 27.4 points per game in his CAREER. He was also a tenacious rebounder, his career average being 13.5 rebounds per game.
Baylor's most successful offensive year had to be his 1960-61 season, in which he averaged 34.8 points per game, 19.8 rebounds per game, and 5.1 assists per game. Most people would chime in to say that it was in fact Baylor's '61-62 season. WRONG.
Baylor played a mere 48 games in the 1961-62 season, compared to the 73 games he dressed for in the previous year, 1960-61. He also averaged more rebounds and assists, two categories that are also obviously valued when recognizing a player's offensive firepower.
Although the Lakers have won 15 championships in their legendary franchise history, Baylor did not have the opportunity to win one with them as a player. Their best chance was the 1969 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics.
The Lakers had traded for Wilt Chamberlain that season to unite current Laker greats such as Baylor and Jerry West.
However, the Lakers fell in the ever famous "balloon" game," where the Lakers organization predicted the Lakers would win due to their unbelievable talent, and had planned to drop balloons from the rafters for some sort of celebration. Powered behind Bill Russell, the Celtics were determined to not let those balloons fall.
Pete Maravich: A crafty guard known for his canny passing skills and fascinating basketball tricks.
Dominque Wilkins: A high-flying dunk master often compared to Michael Jordan in terms of showy dunks.
Reggie Miller: One of the game's best three-point shooters and one of the most exciting clutch players.