The pinnacle of the basketball world is the NBA Finals, where the glory of victory and agony of defeat are experienced. Well, not every great player knows what it even feels like to lose in the Finals.
The only player who is considered an ABSOLUTE GREAT WHO NEVER ONCE LOST IN THE FINALS is Michael Jordan. Havlicek, Mikan and Duncan also never lost.
The rest of the players lost and so they are officially and forever out of the question of who is the greatest basketball player of all-time?
The definition of greatest is according to Merriam Webster's is: chief or preeminent over others - often used in titles; also, long continued or markedly superior.
So by definition the greatest means to have never lost due to preeminence and superiority. WHEN YOU LOSE, YOU ARE NOT THE SUPERIOR, YOU ARE THE INFERIOR.
Therefore, the only three in the question for greatest are those who never lost because they forced their team to win, or were a part of a great team which mixed the talents equally.
This list goes year-by-year to highlight Finals losers who people try and hope they can say are GOAT. NOPE. THE PERSON WHO IS THE GREATEST PLAYER EVER COULD NOT LOSE IN THE FINALS EVEN ONCE, OR THEY WOULDN'T BE THE GREATEST.
The greatest by definition cannot lose.
The 1958 Boston Celtics lost to the St. Louis Hawks in the Finals: Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, Sam Jones, and Bill Sharman lost in the Finals.
The 1959 Minneapolis Lakers lost to the Celtics in the Finals - Elgin Baylor lost in the Finals.
In 1960 St. Louis lost to Boston - Bob Pettit lost in the Finals.
In 1961 St. Louis lost to Boston - Bob Pettit and Lenny Wilkens lost in the Finals.
In 1962 Baylor and West lost again to Boston
In 1963 Baylor and West lost again to Boston.
In 1964 Wilt Chamberlain and Nate Thurmond (SF Warriors) both lost to Boston.
In 1965 Baylor and Don Nelson and Jerry West lost to Boston.
In 1966 Baylor, West and Gail Goodrich lost to Boston.
In 1967 Rick Barry and Nate Thurmond (SF Warriors) lost to Philadelphia 76ers in the Finals.
In 1968 Baylor, West and Goodrich lost to Boston.
In 1969 Baylor, Chamberlain and West lost to Boston.
In 1970 Baylor, Chamberlain and West lost to the Knicks.
In 1971 Earl Monroe and Wes Unseld (Baltimore Bullets) lost to Milwaukee.
In 1972 Dave DeBusschere, Walt Frazier, Phil Jackson, Jerry Lucas, Earl Monroe and Willis Reed (NY) lost to LA.
In 1973 Chamberlain, Goodrich, Pat Riley and Jerry West lost to NY.
In 1974 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson (Milw) lost to Boston.
In 1975 Elvin Hayes and Wes Unseld (Washington Bullets) lost to Golden State.
In 1977 Joe Jellybean Bryant (losing in Finals runs in family), Darryl Dawkins, Dr. J Erving, World B Free and George McGinnis (Phi) lost to Portland in the Finals.
In 1979 Elvin Hayes and Wes Unseld (Wash) lost to Seattle in the Finals.
In 1980 Mo Cheeks, Darryl Dawkins, Andrew Toney and DR. J (Phi) lost in the Finals vs LA.
In 1981Moses Malone and Calvin Murphy (Hou) lost in the Finals to Boston.
In 1982 Mo Cheeks, Darryl Dawkins, Dr. J, Andrew Toney and Bobby Jones (Phi) lost in the Finals to LA.
In 1983 Jabbar, Magic, McAdoo, Byron Scott, Jamaal Wilkes and James Worthy lost in the Finals to Phi.
In 1984 Jabbar, Magic, McAdoo, Byron Scott, Wilkes and Worthy lost in the Finals vs Bost.
In 1985 Bird, McHale and Parish lost in the Finals vs LA.
In 1986 Olajuwon and Sampson (Hou) lost in the Finals vs Boston.
In 1987 Bird, McHale and Parish lost to LA in the Finals.
In 1988 Adrian Dantley, Dumars, Rodman and Isiah Thomas (Det.) lost in the Finals to LA>
In 1989 Jabbar, Magic, Scott and Worthy lost in the Finals to Detroit.
In 1990 Clyde Drexler and Drazen Petrovic (Port) lost to the Pistons.
In 1991 Magic, Worthy and Scott lost to the Bulls.
In 1992 Drexler (Port) lost to Chicago.
In 1993 Barkley and Kevin Johnson (Phoenix) lost to Chicago in the Finals.
In 1994 Patrick Ewing (NY) lost in the Finals to Houston.
In 1995 Shaq and Penny lost in the Finals vs Houston.
In 1996 Kemp and Payton (Sea) lost to Chicago.
In 1997 Malone and Stockton (Utah) lost to Chicago.
In 1998 Malone and Stockton (Utah) lost to Chicago.
In 1999 Ewing (NY) lost to SA.
In 2000 Reggie Miller and Chris Mullin (Ind) lost to LA.
In 2001 Iverson and Mutombo (Phi) lost to LA.
In 2002 Kidd (NJ) lost to LA.
In 2003 Kidd and Mutombo (NJ) lost to SA.
In 2004 Kobe Bryant, Shaq, Karl Malone and Gary Payton lost to Detroit.
In 2005 Billups and the Wallaces (Det) lost to SA.
In 2006 Nowitzki and Stackhouse (Dall) lost to Miami.
In 2007 Lebron and Cleveland lost to SA.
In 2008 Kobe Bryant and Gasol lost to Boston.
In 2009 Dwight Howard (Orl) lost to LA.
In 2010 Allen, Pierce, Rondo and KG lost to LA.
So, who is the greatest player in NBA history?