Ring Watch: Current NBA Players with the Most Championship Rings
The route to becoming a multiple-time champion is a stressful one. LeBron James' and Manu Ginobili's hairlines can confirm that.
With the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat preparing to meet in the NBA Finals for the second straight season, that means an opportunity for some to further their legacies and others to start new ones.
James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are going for their third straight title, something we haven't seen happen since the Shaquille O'Neal-Kobe Bryant Los Angeles Lakers teams of the early 2000s. Tim Duncan is trying to win his fifth ring, which would match Bryant and potentially redefine the way we rank those two players.
Still, it will take a lot of work (and even more luck) to make this list of current players with three or more rings. Only seven current players fit that criteria. Let's take a brief look at how they got here:
Kobe Bryant, 5 Championships
Of course, Kobe Bryant is at the top of this list.
Bryant spread out his rings, teaming up with O'Neal to win his first three in 2000, 2001 and 2002, and then capturing Nos. 4 and 5 as the leader of those 2009 and 2010 Lakers teams.
It's not just the championships—Bryant is seemingly always in the playoffs. His 220 postseason games are fifth-most of any player in NBA history.
By any measure, Kobe ranks as one of the best postseason players of all time.
We've seen Bryant go nuts in the playoffs so many times, it's hard to pick out one particular moment to describe it all.
Should we think his highest point was his playoff career-high 50 points in a 2006 overtime loss to the Phoenix Suns? How about leading the biggest comeback ever in a Game 7, charging forward from a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit in the 2000 Western Conference Finals, a game in which Kobe had 25 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and four blocks?
A two-time NBA Finals MVP is bound to have some magical moments.
But maybe Kobe hasn't done it all on his own. He had Shaq for three of those rings. And he hasn't been able to win one without the immortal Derek Fisher...
Derek Fisher, 5 Championships
What is there to say about the man who has appeared in more playoff games than anyone else in NBA history?
Derek Fisher is a postseason staple, as consistent a presence in the race for a ring as the world's most successful gold digger. The 18-year veteran has made it into the playoffs every year of his career, save for his two seasons with the Golden State Warriors.
It makes sense that we always hear about Fisher's leadership and experience, doesn't it? Quantifiably, no one has more than him.
His most notable postseason moment probably came back in 2004, when Fisher hit his famous game-winning shot against the San Antonio Spurs with 0.4 seconds remaining in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals. And given all the superlatives we hear about Fisher's maturity, he was probably 40 years old when that happened.
But that's Derek Fisher. He was a vet when the Lakers selected him with the 24th pick of the 1996 draft. He was a vet as a guard off the bench for this year's Oklahoma City Thunder. And maybe next year, he'll be running his own team.
Tim Duncan, 4 Championships
The San Antonio Spurs are all about consistency.
Gregg Popovich has been there since 1996. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili have seemingly been part of the squad forever. And Duncan has been donning that Spurs black and white ever since he entered the NBA 17 years ago. And over the years, the boringly consistent Spurs have let their best player, Duncan, define them.
Since Duncan entered the league in 1997, San Antonio has failed to win 50 games just once. Once. And get this: That was during the 1998-99 strike season, which was just 50 games long. All the Spurs did that year was go 37-13 and win their first title in franchise history.
But there were more to follow.
San Antonio wins in the odd-numbered years: 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007. Maybe that's a bad sign for this run...
Either way, the Big Fundamental is always there to bank in his 16-foot jumpers, racking up the fourth-most postseason games of all time.
The three-time NBA Finals MVP may not have had a more defining postseason moment than his almost-quadruple-double in the clinching Game 6 of the 2003 Finals, when Duncan went for 21 points, 20 rebounds, 10 assists and eight blocks.
We're always going to see Duncan with a chance to make a deep postseason run, and if he gets ring No. 5 in 2014, the conversation for best player of his generation, one that compares Duncan and Bryant, should reframe.
Tony Parker, 3 Championships
Another Spur, another staple of the postseason.
San Antonio selected Parker with the 28th pick in the 2001 NBA draft, one of the first examples of the Spurs' brilliant international scouting process. The 13-year veteran immediately filled the role of starting point guard in his rookie season and never looked back.
By the time he was 21 years old, Parker was starting in the NBA Finals against the New Jersey Nets. He averaged 14.0 points, 4.2 assists and 3.2 rebounds on his way to receiving his first ring in that series.
In never missing the postseason, Parker has averaged 19.0 points, 5.3 assists and 3.1 rebounds during his playoff career.
His best extended postseason arguably came last year, when he had a 21.5 PER, his best in any playoffs in which the Spurs went further than the first round. Parker scored 20.6 points a night and dished out 7.0 assists on 46 percent shooting and an out-of-character 36 percent three-point accuracy.
As good as the Frenchman has been in his career though, there hasn't been a better moment for Parker than winning NBA Finals MVP in 2007, after scoring 24.5 points per game on 57 percent shooting in a sweep of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Manu Ginobili, 3 Championships
Obviously, Popovich's boys are raiding this list. Would you expect anything less?
Like Parker, Manu Ginobili is just another example of the Spurs' tremendous international scouting process. Actually, considering where Manu went in the draft, he may be the absolute best embodiment of San Antonio's front-office brilliance.
Though he didn't come over to the league until 2002, Ginobili was the second-to-last pick of the 1999 NBA draft. Now, after 12 seasons with the Spurs, he's well on his way to a Hall of Fame career.
The 2007-08 Sixth Man of the Year has averaged 15.5 points, 4.0 assists and 4.4 rebounds during his postseason career. And after finishing third in the voting for that award this past season, it doesn't seem like Manu will be slowing down any time soon.
Ginobili has been the key third wheel to Parker and Duncan in the Spurs' last three championship runs, giving Duncan a run for his money in the 2005 Finals MVP argument, when he averaged 18.7 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.0 assists on 49-39-85 shooting against the Detroit Pistons.
Actually, Manu was brilliant through the 2005 playoffs and had one of the best games of his career during that stretch, dropping 39 on just 15 shots against the Seattle Sonics in the Western Conference Semifinals.
Dwyane Wade, 3 Championships
We may associate Dwyane Wade with winning championships as part of a big three, but the former Marquette Golden Eagle actually got his first one on his own.
Sure, when the Miami Heat got their first ring in team history back in 2006, Shaquille O'Neal was there. And Shaq had a great season, a tremendous campaign in his initial year in red and white. But let's not forget exactly how dominant Wade was during those Finals.
D-Wade averaged a bulbous 34.7 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.7 steals in that six-game series win over the Dallas Mavericks.
He was constantly finding new ways to score, even getting to the line a combined 46 times in the final two games against Dirk Nowitzki's squad. He actually averaged 16.2 free-throw attempts per game in that series. It was truly remarkably how easily he was able to get to and finish at the rim.
Though Wade has had plenty of tremendous postseason series since the 2006 Finals (including the 33.2 points per game he averaged on 56 percent shooting in a first-round loss to the Boston Celtics in 2010), nothing compares to that series against the Mavs. Nothing can compare. It's one of the dominant Finals performances of the past 10 years.
Now, with LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Erik Spoelstra at his side, Wade has two more rings, one in each of the previous couple seasons. And he could keep moving up this list if those guys stay together beyond this year.
Udonis Haslem, 3 Championships
Just like Kobe had Fisher, Wade has had Udonis Haslem.
Both guys came into the NBA in 2003, and both have played out their entire careers in Miami. For every ring D-Wade has earned, Haslem has been right there with him.
Sure, Haslem has been a role player throughout his career, but when you play on three championship teams, you end up with some big moments. Just ask Keith Bogans about that.
In a season in which the Heat didn't actually win the championship, that play against the Chicago Bulls was one of the major positives which Miami fans can remember. In Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Haslem stuffed then-MVP Derrick Rose and then dunked on Bogans on the other end.
Symbolically, it was a moment that said to the Chicago Bulls, "We don't care if you had the better regular-season record. The East is ours."
Haslem has played in 134 postseason games, 60th all time. During the Finals, he'll likely pass Elgin Baylor, Nowitzki, Bruce Bowen, Sam Cassel and Patrick Ewing. For any role player not named Derek Fisher, he's living the dream.
Not everyone can get three championships. Here's a look at the honorable mentions, some of the best players with rings on two of their fingers:
• LeBron James: It took James seemingly forever to get his first ring, but now, it doesn't feel like he's ever going to stop racking up jewelry. The Heat have been to the NBA Finals four years in a row, have won two straight and may be on the way to their third this season. At just 29 years old, who knows how many more championships LeBron has in him?
• Chris Bosh: We've got to get all the Heat guys on here, right? For all the grief Bosh takes, the guy may be a future Hall of Famer and is one of the best shooting big men of his generation.
• Ray Allen: The all-time three-point leader got his first ring as a member of that 2008 Boston Celtics championship team. His second one came just last season in Miami. Like LeBron and Bosh, he has a chance to earn No. 3 in June.
• Norris Cole: Cole has won 100 percent of the championships that have happened since he's entered the NBA. Is it bold to say this won't continue for the rest of his career?
• The rest of the Heat: Yes, Shane Battier, Mario Chalmers, Joel Anthony, James Jones and everyone else on LeBron's Miami teams have two rings, as well.
• Pau Gasol: Gasol got his two championships with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010. Like Bosh, Gasol gets lots of flack, but his 18.6 points, 11.6 rebounds and 2.6 blocks in the 2010 Finals were integral to LA's victory.
• Andrew Bynum/Lamar Odom: Both of these guys are question marks for next season. Over the last two years, Bynum has played in a total of 26 games for four organizations (including the Bulls), and now finds himself teamless. Odom, meanwhile, didn't play in the NBA this past season, but has himself a contract for next year with the New York Knicks.
Fred Katz averaged almost one point per game in fifth grade, but he maintains his per-36-minute numbers were astonishing. Find more of his work at RotoWire.com, WashingtonPost.com or on ESPN's TrueHoop Network at ClipperBlog.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FredKatz.