I suppose the idea for this article comes from a couple of different things.
The first is that I was watching Bulls DVDs with a mate the other night, and the series against the New York Knicks came on and we got talking. I said that I still rate Patrick Ewing as the greatest center in the last 20 years, and that it was a shame he never won a ring.
The second reason for me writing this article is that it's entirely possible that Derrick Rose will play his entire career as a Bull, and never win a ring. I know, Bulls fans, I'm as depressed at the idea of that as you are. However, while I certainly hope it's not the case, it could always happen.
So I started thinking to myself, who would I rank as the five greatest players of the last 20 years to not win a ring. So here they are, in no particular order of preference. I have chosen one player per position, so it's almost like the perfect starting 5 to never win a championship.
Power Forward - Charles Barkley
Sir Charles was a rare breed of player with the bulk of a power forward, and the height of a point guard. Chuck could out-rebound seven footers, dribble the length of the court on the break, and finish with a dunk so powerful, the backboard would still be swaying by the time he got back on D. That's nasty!
Despite his incredible skill and some great teammates, a ring somehow eluded Charles. In Philadelphia, he had Dr. J; in Phoenix, he had KJ and Thunder Dan; and in Houston, he had serious back problems and let's face it, Houston's run was over by then.
Point Guard - Allen Iverson
I'm sure this will be a controversial selection as many people don't believe that AI deserves to win a ring, despite his incredible skills. Iverson was the first of what many call the “hip hop generation” of NBA player. He wore cornrows, he had tattoos covering his arms and he seemed to have an air of arrogance about him.
Iverson had a long and relatively successful career in Philadelphia before bouncing from Philly to Denver, back to Philly, then back to Denver. Then there was the year in Detroit, then three more games in Denver, only to wind up back in Philly for 25 more games.
As I write this, AI is yet to find a home in the NBA this year and with nobody seemingly likely to call anytime soon, a team in Turkey may be the way this nine-time NBA All-Star ends his career.
Center - Patrick Ewing
Drafted by the Knicks and playing his whole career with the Knicks, you have to feel sorry for him straight away. I'm just kidding Knicks fans. Ewing, like so many of the others on this list, had the unfortunate pleasure of playing at the same time as Michael Jordan. The problem for Patrick is that for his Knicks to ever get a shot at winning it all, they had to beat Jordan and his Bulls.
Ewing could shoot the jumper, block shots, wrestle for rebounds and when he dunked on you it was lights-out! I consider Patrick Ewing the greatest center of the last 20 years, and definitely the one guy that even though I hated seeing my Bulls play, I always loved his game.
Small Forward – Dominique Wilkins
“The Human Highlight Film” is still considered one of the most underrated players in NBA history. Not only did he never win a ring, he was also not included as one of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players of all time. 'Nique was a nine-time NBA All-Star, and a FIBA World Championship gold medal winner in 1994.
Wilkins is mostly remembered for his super acrobatic dunks, and Michael Jordan's competitor in what most people still consider the greatest dunk competition of all time. While he was finally recognized in 2006 and entered into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, most basketball fans still feel bad that Dominique never got his hands on the Larry O'Brien trophy.
Shooting Guard – Reggie Miller
I saved the most villainous and controversial player for the end. Reggie Miller is widely considered as the man that mastered the art of shooting off screens, and perhaps the deadliest three-point shooter in the clutch. Miller grew up with a big sister that outdid every achievement he ever attained, so it was only right that he played like he had a chip on his shoulder and something to prove.
Famous for his hand-in-the-face defense and unbelievable eight points in 8.9 seconds against the Knicks, Miller established himself as the guy everyone loved to hate. Now that I think of it, between Jordan and Miller, the Knicks were destroyed on many, many occasions. Miller was also a gold medalist at the 1994 and 2002 FIBA World Championships and the 1996 Olympic Games.
I know as a Bulls fan, I will never forget when he hit a game-winner against the Bulls by pushing Jordan out of the way. I hate Reggie Miller.