The Ring Is King: 10 NBA Players Who Need a Championship the Most

John Reimold@Reimold34Contributor IApril 9, 2011

The Ring Is King: 10 NBA Players Who Need a Championship the Most

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    Lebron James needs a title this yearMike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    When discussing individual greatness in any sport, the number of championships is often one of the first criteria brought up.

    Peyton Manning would never hear the end of it had he not won a ring in 2007.

    Before Barry Bonds was known for his head tripling in size, he was the guy who could not perform in the playoffs for the Pirates in the early '90s.

    While championships are no doubt a measuring stick in football and baseball, many believe that in basketball they are essential to prove greatness.

    Fairly or not, in the NBA, great players are expected to win regardless of their teammates.

    With that being said, I give you the 10 NBA players whose career achievements will be vindicated the most by winning their first title.

10) Chris Bosh

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    Bosh makes this list because of the criticism he will receive if the Miami Heat do not win the title.

    Bosh did some good things in Toronto despite never having won a playoff series. Career averages of 20 points and nine rebounds per game are nothing to sneeze at.

    Bosh's stats have tailed off a bit this season, and Miami has not had quite the success many thought they would have this year.

    After hearing jokes like renaming the Heat "Two and a Half Men" (Bosh obviously being the half), a championship would at least make the artist formerly known as CB4 feel a little bit better about his decision to take his talents to South Beach.

9) Joe Johnson

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Johnson makes this list not because his career averages of 18 points, 4.5 assists and four rebounds per game need validation.

    He makes it because he may be more overpaid for his services than Bernie Madoff was for his.

    Johnson just signed a contract for $119 million prior to this season. A championship, though very unlikely with the current roster setup, would definitely boost the public opionion of Johnson.

8) Chris Paul

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    This is a truly sad case.

    This fantastic player is in a terrible situation in New Orleans. He has a depleted roster to work with and on top of that he is playing on one leg.

    Somehow, due mostly to Paul, the Hornets are looking at nearly 50 wins this season.

    Paul has never advanced past the conference semifinals, but that has little to do with him. 

    It does seem that the masses are forgetting this guy, who is only 25 and three seasons ago was widely considered the best point guard alive.

    A ring might bring back that very same popular opinion. Problem is, it's not going to happen for him with the Hornets, and a change of scenery would probably benefit his career greatly.

    He is a free agent after next season.

7) Amar'e Stoudemire

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Stoudemire has had a nice career so far. He is a fixture on highlight reels and has put up some nice statistics in his eight seasons in the NBA.

    A two-time conference finalist, he has yet to advance to the NBA's biggest stage.

    As it is, Stoudemire is a good player who is very entertaining to watch.  Nothing wrong with that, but he went to New York to become a superstar.

    If he were to win a title with the Knicks, he would immediately jump into the conversation when discussing the NBA's elite.

6) Jason Kidd

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Jason Kidd used to be a great player.

    In his prime, he did some pretty impressive things. He racked up over 100 career triple-doubles. He led a very average Nets team to consecutive finals appearances.

    Don't let the impostor running around in Jason Kidd's body now detract from what he once was.

    With that being said, if the Mavs were to win a title this season, it would be the icing on the cake for Kidd's place in the history books.

    The next best thing he could do for his legacy, however, is to retire, because the glory days are long gone.

5) Carmelo Anthony

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    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    Anthony is one of the NBA's most prolific scorers. The problem is that he has only been out of the first round of the NBA playoffs once in his entire career.

    All those points he scored would really be validated by a title. Seven years into his NBA career, Anthony is still better known for what he did at Syracuse than anything he has done in the NBA.

    Winning a championship will drastically improve his standing.

4) Steve Nash

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    This back-to-back MVP is still chasing that elusive first title.

    With as many MVP awards as Kobe and Shaq combined (never mind the fact that many believe O'Neal deserved the award in '05 and Kobe in '06), Nash has a terrific resume.  

    With senior citizenship just around the corner, Nash had better hurry up if he wants a championship. I hate to say it, but its not happening in Phoenix.

    The best thing the Suns could do for Nash is to deal him to a contender next season.

3) Dwight Howard

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Big Dwight is a perennial All-NBA first-teamer.

    He puts up impressive numbers and dominates on the defensive end.

    Offensively, he is having a career year this season, averaging about 23 points per game to go with his 14 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game.

    Numbers aside, unfortunately, this guy can't hit free throws and does not have a go-to post move.  These are major flaws that need to be corrected.

    Howard's inability to sink free throws haunted him in a crucial Game 4 in his only trip to the NBA Finals in 2009.

    Until he improves in these areas, he is always going to have to depend on teammates to bail him out in crunch time, and it could prevent him from winning a ring. 

2) Dirk Nowitzki

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Dirk is becoming synonymous with playoff flameouts.

    He owns the rare distinction of being an NBA MVP. The problem is he holds an even more rare distinction as being the leader of a team that was bounced out of the playoffs in the first round as a 1-seed (vs. the Warriors in 2007) and as a 2-seed (vs. the Spurs in 2010).

    Add that to Dallas' collapse in the 2006 finals after being ahead 2-0, and Dirk has some serious stains on an otherwise fantastic resume.

    All the season-ending failures would likely be forgotten if he wins that elusive first ring.

1) Lebron James

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    Easily the most polarizing figure in the game, we are accustomed to seeing this face come playoff time.

    Since leading Cleveland to an unlikely Finals appearance in 2007, we have seen incredible highs and spectacular lows from this self-proclaimed King.

    Despite consecutive MVP awards and the best record in the NBA the past two seasons, James and the Cavs were ousted by teams they were heavily favored to defeat.

    After the playoff failures, James decided to bolt Cleveland for Miami.

    James claims he left because he thought he had a better chance to compete for a championship.

    He famously talked about winning eight championships during a controversial celebration before the season started.

    The longer James goes without a title, the more he becomes a laughingstock and a magnet for criticism.

    James won't escape all the criticism—even if the Heat win a ring this season—as many will say he could not do it as the go-to-guy on his team and he had to hitch his wagon to a proven champion in Dwyane Wade.