The word "disrespect" is defined in the dictionary as lack of respect; discourtesy; rudeness. On the block it is used to dismiss someone as irrelevant. "Underrated" is defined as to rate or evaluate too low; underestimate. Simply, someone is rated lower than they should be, but are rated nonetheless.
The difference between disrespect and underrated may appear negligible, but it's profound. To diss someone is to completely devalue their talents as if they were not even remotely as good as they appear to be. Conversely, to be underrated implies you are valued in some capacity and just not fully appreciated.
Throughout the history of sports there have always been a collection of players that the ticket-buying public refuses to believe is just “that good," hence they disrespect their abilities. Therefore they make up reasons to say the player underachieved or disrespect said player’s accomplishments by completely ignoring their contributions.
For example, some would say Scottie Pippen is underrated. His talent was respected from coast to coast, however his true value to the Bulls’ success is debatable. While contrarily, Moses Malone has been disrespected mightily throughout time. His contributions are rarely discussed if mentioned at all. Few know he gave Kareem fits or that he was a three-time MVP.
Another example of the difference between underrated and disrespected would be Emmitt Smith and Terrell Davis. Smith is underrated by many who feel his numbers are not indicative of how good he actually was, while TD is completely thought of as a system running back and nothing more. One is rated as a top running back while the other is not even mentioned.
So this is a list comprised of champions who have been disrespected throughout time. They have been tarred and feathered for a litany of reasons ranging from location to pigmentation. The participants on this list should be heralded for their on-court accomplishments and saluted for their contributions to the game we love.