NBA Power Rankings: Shaq and the 10 Most Blatant Ring-Chasers in NBA History
Shaquille O'Neal is a champion. Apparently, he wants to keep being a champion as his career ends. Last summer, Shaquille decided to sign deal with the Boston Celtics. It was obvious his individual success would take a hit. Regardless, the goal of this move was much greater.
It is not uncommon to see NBA players make significant efforts to land on a championship caliber team towards the end of their career. Some players force trades, others sign cheap contracts and some even come out of retirement to sign those contracts.
For these players, these moves are strictly only to get a championship ring. These players are no longer looking for individual success and significant playing time. They are just looking to provide some of what was once an incredible talent to a team they think could go "over the hump" with their services.
Without further introduction, here are the top 10 ring-chasers in NBA history.
10. Ron Artest
Chris Trotman/Getty Images
The latest championship victor whose place on the championship team was a pure result of a player chasing an NBA championship ring is Ron Artest. The Los Angeles Lakers have been a popular team for aging players to chase a ring with, but not all have been successful.
Ron Artest met his goal in his first year as a Laker when they repeated as champions in 2010. He might not have his ring anymore after selling it for charity, but he is an NBA champion nonetheless.
9. Mitch Richmond
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Mitch Richmond is a perfect example of an aging player looking for glory. In 2001, Richmond decided to sign as a free agent with (again) the Los Angeles Lakers in hopes of getting an NBA championship next to Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal.
Mitch went from being one of the league's most prolific scorers to a garbage time player, scoring just over four points per game. In the playoffs, he hardly ever saw the floor. Whether his contributions were part of the team's success is debatable, but he finally got his ring in 2002.
8. Kevin Willis
Harry How/Getty Images
One of the oldest players to ever suit up for a basketball game, Willis once again gave it a go in 2003 with the San Antonio Spurs in hopes of an NBA Championship.
Similarly to other players on this list, Willis' contributions were sparse and hardly influential. After averaging just about 11 minutes per contest, Willis helped the Spurs win the 2003 NBA Championship.
7. Alonzo Mourning
Doug Benc/Getty Images
After surviving a life threatening kidney disease that forced early retirement, Alonzo Mourning made his way back to the NBA court. In 2005, Mourning signed with the Miami Heat, joining forces with Dwayne Wade and former rival Shaquille O'Neal.
His contributions to the Heat allowed for the team to have a strong defensive presence in the low block at all times. The combination of O'Neal and Mourning became one of the best center pairs in the league's history.
After an emotional series against the Dallas Mavericks, Mourning got his well deserved championship ring in 2006.
6. Charles Barkley
Getty Images/Getty Images
So far, these have only been stories about success. For ring-chasers, success is not always met. That is the case of Charles Barkley, one of the best players in NBA history to never win a championship ring.
In 1996, Barkley was part of a blockbuster trade that sent him to the Houston Rockets, where he reunited with Hakeem Olajuwon. While he posted great numbers in Houston, the team's playoff success was limited. Barkley saw his two championship runs cut short by the Utah Jazz in 1997 and 1998.
5. Michael Finley
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Michael Finley did what not many players in NBA history have attempted. He went ring-chasing to an in-state rival team. Finley's career in Dallas was one of the best the team has ever seen, but he made the decision to end his career a few miles away in San Antonio.
Finley's production was limited by constrained minutes from day one. His productivity was just not at the level it once was. Towards the end, he hardly saw the floor for more than 10 or 15 minutes per contest. Regardless, he did win the NBA championship he wanted.
As if that wasn't enough, Finley once again went ring-chasing, but this time with the Boston Celtics, where his goal was not met.
4. Chris Webber
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Chris Webber considered retirement a few times before coming back for a championship run with the Detroit Pistons in 2007. Many considered the big man to be a huge plus for a Detroit team poised to make another championship run. That was not the case.
Webber did help the Pistons reach the playoffs and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, but his championship run was cut by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Chris did try to suit up once again for the following season with Golden State, although that move can hardly be considered ring-chasing.
3. Karl Malone
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
In 2004, Karl Malone joined the Los Angeles Lakers, along with Gary Payton, to create one of the best super-friends teams the league has seen in a while. After joining forces with Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant, the Lakers were once again a championship contending team.
Everything went well for most of the season, although it was clearly an adjustment for Malone to be the third or fourth option offensively. The team reached the NBA Finals that year, where they were ousted by the Detroit Pistons.
Although Karl Malone was unable to win a championship in his career, he did make the best of efforts to do so in joining the Lakers in his last year.
2. Gary Payton
Doug Benc/Getty Images
Gary Payton will one day be inducted in the Hall of Fame as one of the best point guards the league has ever seen. In his prime years, Payton was a defensive and offensive force. He carried his team to regular season success and put himself and his team in contention for an NBA championship several times. This was not enough to reach the final goal.
After Payton's prime years were done, only one goal remained, an NBA championship. In 2004, Payton joined the Los Angeles Lakers, where he had the chance to play with three other all-stars in Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O,Neal and Karl Malone. That still was not enough to reach the final goal.
In 2006, Gary Payton accepted a reserve role with the Miami Heat. Finally in this year, Payton was able to emerge as an NBA champion after the Heat beat the Mavericks in the 2006 finals.
1. Shaquille O'Neal
Shaquille O'Neal was won four NBA championships, the latter being with a Miami Heat team featuring Dwayne Wade and former all-stars Alonzo Mourning and Gary Payton.
One could say O'Neal's career has been a complete success, but season after season, it seems as if O'Neal is still fiercely looking for yet another ring. He forced a trade to the Phoenix Suns in the 2007-2008 season, looking to bring the Suns their first NBA championship next to MVP Steve Nash and all-star Stoudemire. That did not work.
After the Phoenix experiment failed in two seasons, he decided to force yet another trade, this time to Cleveland to play alongside LeBron James. That did not work either.
Most recently, Shaquille O'Neal signed a deal with the Boston Celtics. Although he has not played many games, it seems as if Boston will once again be contending for another NBA championship, making O'Neal the fiercest ring-chaser in NBA history.