NBA Finals 2011: The 10 Greatest Duos to Never Win a Championship
It takes a great team to advance through the NBA Finals and win a championship.
However, even when a couple of all-time greats are paired together, they may still not have what it takes to bring home a title.
Consequently, some of the top twosomes in league history have been left ringless.
This list will seek to rank the top 10 such duos, all of whom have never had the chance to win their teams an NBA Championship.
No. 10 (tie): Aging Active Duos
There are a number of solid duos playing in the NBA right now, who are nearing the end of their careers, and are still ringless.
Twosomes like Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd, and even the former combination of Steve Nash and Amar'e Stoudemire, are both examples of duos who may never win rings.
And even though Nowitzki and Kidd may earn a title this year, and maybe Stoudemire in the future, their lack of championship success thus far has established them among the top duos with no titles at this point.
No. 9: Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway
Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway both joined the Miami Heat prior to the 1995-96 NBA season, and they immediately had an impact.
As a matter of fact, the pair of players strung together six consecutive playoff appearances in their six years together, including one trip to the Eastern Conference Finals.
However, they never were able to get over the hump, and although the two carved out solid careers, they never put the icing on the cake with championship rings.
No. 8: Elgin Baylor and Anyone
When looking at his entire body of work, it's hard to deny that Elgin Baylor put together one of the most remarkable careers in NBA history.
In all, he managed to post eye-popping career averages of 27.4 points and 13.8 rebounds per game over 13 seasons.
However, despite appearing in the NBA Finals a whopping eight times, he never won any NBA Championships.
And what makes this story even more heartbreaking is the fact that, when Baylor was finally forced to retire after a devastating injury, his Los Angeles Lakers finally won their first title in 18 years.
So while many of his most famous teammates, like Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain, earned their own rings, Baylor did not, and when you pair him with almost any of his ringless teammates, it would very likely make one of the best duos to never win a title.
No. 7: Reggie Miller and Rick Smits
Following the 1986-87 NBA season, the Indiana Pacers had missed the playoffs nine out of their previous 11 seasons.
However, their fortunes were soon to change, as they would draft Reggie Miller and Rick Smits in the next two offseasons, sealing up their team's core for the next 11 years.
During this period of time, the Pacers would make multiple deep playoff runs, appear in the NBA Finals once and witness Reggie Miller turn in an all-time great career performance.
Nevertheless, the team never managed to bring home a title, and consequently, Miller and Smits will go down as one of the greatest duos to never win a championship.
No. 6: George Gervin and Artis Gilmore
Although George Gervin and Artis Gilmore were teammates for only three seasons, it was at a point when both had already earned reputations as being among the NBA's top performers.
In fact, by the end of their careers, the two both ranked among the top 20 scorers in the history of the NBA/ABA.
However, the most that they ever managed when playing together was a trip to the Western Conference Finals.
And seeing as both Gervin and Gilmore began rapidly declining soon after that, it became certain that neither would ever wear an NBA Championship ring.
No. 5: Patrick Ewing and Charles Oakley
During their ten years together on the New York Knicks, Patrick Ewing and Charles Oakley earned a reputation for being one of the toughest interior tandems in the NBA.
Moreover, the duo also managed to make the NBA Finals once and never missed the playoffs.
However, like everyone else on this list, they never made it all the way.
But seeing as though Ewing went down as one of the best centers of all time, and Oakley finished just shy of a career double-double average, the two were certainly one of the best duos to never bring home a title.
No. 4: Allen Iverson and Dikembe Mutombo
Allen Iverson was a dominant player in his day, serving as the heart of soul of a Philadelphia 76ers team while earning four scoring titles and an MVP award.
So when he was teamed up with Dikembe Mutombo, whose rebounding and defensive-oriented style of play meshed well with Iverson's ball dominance, it appeared as though it would be a deadly combo.
In fact, the same year Mutombo was brought in, the Sixers made the NBA Finals, before ultimately falling to the Los Angeles Lakers.
However, Mutombo then moved on, although both he and Iverson never won a title.
Nevertheless, the combination of the two players certainly makes for one of the better ringless duos ever.
No. 3: Charles Barkley and Kevin Johnson
After toiling away on a bad Philadelphia 76ers team early in his career, Charles Barkley eventually made the decision to jump ship and join the Phoenix Suns.
In doing so, Barkley was immediately teamed up with one of the NBA's best point guards, Kevin Johnson, making the Suns a dangerous squad.
The duo then proceeded to make the Finals in their first season together, although they eventually fell to the Chicago Bulls.
What's more, they never made the Finals again, and in the end, neither individual won an NBA championship, making them one of the best ringless duos ever.
No. 2: Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp
After drafting Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton in back-to-back drafts, the Seattle SuperSonics proceeded to make seven consecutive postseason appearances.
In fact, they even made the NBA Finals in 1996, before ultimately falling to the Chicago Bulls.
And in the process of all of this, Payton and Kemp stood out as two of the most talented and exciting players in the NBA.
However, the Sonics eventually dealt away Kemp, and following the lockout, he struggled with conditioning issues, before gradually fading out of the league.
Payton, for his part, remained with Seattle for a while, although he never brought them a title.
And while he did win a ring with the Miami Heat, he did so while primarily serving as a backup, far removed from his days with Kemp and the Sonics.
No. 1: Karl Malone and John Stockton
When considering the best individual players who never won an NBA Championship, Karl Malone and John Stockton immediately come to mind.
And when one considers that those two amazing talents played together for 18 years, the fact that they never won a title is all the more amazing.
In all, the two made the playoffs in all 18 seasons, they made the NBA Finals twice, and both Malone (scoring) and Stockton (assists and steals) became the league's all-time leaders in major statistical categories.
Consequently, there is no doubt that the duo is the best ever to have never won an NBA Championship.