25 Guys We Can't Believe Have Championship Rings

Zack Pumerantz@z_pumerantzAnalyst IIIJuly 18, 2012

25 Guys We Can't Believe Have Championship Rings

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    For most journeymen athletes, winning a title is like witnessing a solar eclipse. They rarely capture one, but when they do it's always special.

    On the other hand, we have the superstars and legends of sport who are expected to secure rings, and expected to carry their teams to the promised land year after year.

    And finally, we have the scrubs. Or rather, those who cling to their leaders and enjoy the championship run, while producing little in return.

    Now, we're not blaming anyone for his lack of ability. We're more intrigued by several forgettable athletes who lucked out with one or several rings.

    Here are 25 dudes we can't believe have championship rings.

    Sports' pine-warming superstars.

25. Luke Walton, NBA

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    With a Hall-of-Fame father in Bill Walton, many expected Luke Walton to approach some sort of his own greatness. 

    And he finally did in 2010, when the Waltons became the first father and son to both have won multiple NBA championships (Bill in 1977 and 1986, and Luke in 2009 and 2010).

    But while Bill won NBA Finals Most Valuable Player in '77, Luke has mostly warmed the bench for both of the Lakers' runs. Like father, almost like son.

24. Doug Williams, NFL

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    Sure he tossed for almost 17,000 yards and 100 touchdowns, but Doug Williams never truly was the franchise signal caller the Redskins yearned for.

    However, the 1987-88 season was a magical one for the 32-year-old Williams, as he started only two regular-season games (both losses) before being chosen as starter for the playoffs due to horrible play from first-string Jay Schroeder.

    He led the 'Skins to Super Bowl XXII, where his 340 yards and four touchdowns helped Washington trounce the Denver Broncos. It was a day that saw Williams become the first African-American quarterback to play in a Super Bowl. He remains the only to win one.

    But Williams would never start another full 16-game season.

23. Craig Counsell, MLB

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    Owner of the weirdest stance in baseball, Craig Counsell has traveled to five teams during his career (including the Diamondbacks and the Brewers, twice).

    And an average of .255 with 42 total homeruns helped the shortstop lead two teams to World Series titles: the Marlins in '97 and the Diamondbacks in '01 are the beneficiaries of Counsell's lucky-charm gene.

    He was clearly a new breed of clutch.

22. Carl Herrera, NBA

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    Venezualen baller Carl Herrera may have only averaged 5.3 points and 3.6 bounds per game during his career, but he secured two rings in back-to-back fashion in'94 and '95.

    Thanks to Hakeem the Dream Olajuwon, this former forward has a glistening collection of NBA hardware to enjoy photo-booth sessions with whenever he pleases.

21. Frankie Crosetti, MLB

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    Ladies and gentlemen, there is no typo here: shortstop Frankie Crosetti won 17 World Championships with the Pinstripes (eight as a player, nine as a coach).

    But for a guy who hit .194 in 1940, it's amazing he was even secured a spot in the dugout. He can thank superstar Bronx Bombers like Joe DiMaggio and Babe Ruth during the early-to-mid 1900s for their Greg Jennings-esque carrying of the Yanks.

20. Jeff Hostetler, NFL

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    Despite being the third-string backup to Phil Simms and Jeff Rutledge for most of his first five years, quarterback Jeff Hostetler was the lucky recipient of a '86 Lombardi Trophy hangout session.

    But in December of 1990, Hostetler's opportunity finally arrived. After Simms broke his foot in a game against the Bills, his backup took over, ready to embrace his chance to shine.

    Behind their inexperienced backup, the G-Men won their final two regular seasons games and swept the playoffs. They defeated the Bills in Super Bowl XXV 20–19, thanks to Scott Norwood's last-second wide-right field-goal.

19. D.J. Mbenga, NBA

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    By knowing five languages, bench-warming center D.J. Mbenga has always been more effective away from the hardwood than on it.

    A career average of 1.8 points per game, with back-to-back rings from the Lakers' 2008 until 2010 run.

    And he's pumped.

18. Jeff Hamilton, MLB

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    Among the worst stick men in Dodgers' history, .234-hitter Jeff Hamilton somehow managed to become a part-time starter on the '88 championship-winning Dodgers.

    The third baseman's .236 average and six homeruns in 111 games certainly helped spark a record-breaking year. In other words, Hamilton can honestly thank Kirk Gibson and his injury-filled, pinch-hit, walk-off home run in Game 1 of the '88 World Series for securing that trophy.

17. Matt Cooke, NHL

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    A solid NHL winger with 145 career goals, Matt Cooke has garnered more attention for his aggravating pokes and aggressive ways than he has for his hockey skill.

    But behind budding legends Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, Cooke finally secured that illustrious engraving on the Stanley Cup trophy in 2010. Few of his victims could've been ecstatic about his Pittsburgh success.

16. Earl Cureton, NBA

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    Led by Moses Malone and Julius Irving in '84 and Hakeem Olajuwon in '94, Earl "The Twirl" Cureton was able to join the elite class of career backups with a championship ring.

    Cureton was clearly a cure for any team, as his bench-warming prowess helped two contrasting teams finish their title run. Teamwork made that dream work.

15. Tim Laudner, MLB

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    Despite his reputation as a career .225 hitter, rotational catcher Tim Laudner was a major part of the '87 World Series Twins.

    A homerun in Minnesota's Game 2 victory over the Cardinals may have proved to be the difference in a tight series. Laudner turned the heat on at just the right time for a memorable finish.

    And did little else.

14. Dickey Simpkins, NBA

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    Two NBA Championship rings with the '96 and '97 Bulls will keep journeyman Dickey Simpkins forever entrenched in basketball lore.

    But considering he wasn't on the team's active roster for either playoff run, we can only count his third championship in '98 as an actually physical memory.

    A legendary scrub stuck behind Luc Longley, Bill Wennington and eventually Dennis Rodman, Simpkins will always be remembered for his trio of rings. Surely collecting dust in his basement somewhere.

13. Brad Johnson, NFL

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    It was once believed that elite quarterback play was necessary for a team to win the Super Bowl.

    But don't get your panties in a twist, we're obviously impressed by Brad Johnson's 29,054 career yards. But the man was your typical game-managing signal caller with little creativity when it came to extending the play.

    Thankfully, his Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp-led Tampa Bay defense and fiery head coach (Jon Gruden) led him to the promised land. Career closure.

12. Chris Dingman, NHL

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    During his 2000-01 season with the Colorado Avalanche, notorious antagonist Chris Dingman scored a magnificent one goal in 41 games. And then in 34 games with the Lightning during the 04-05 season, he scored the same amount.

    Both years he won the Stanley Cup, both years beating the odds. Following his second championship, the Dinger would never be seen in the NHL again.

11. Kurt Rambis, NBA

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    While we'd never question his fashion sense, it's Kurt Rambis' four championship rings that has us shaking our heads enthusiastically.

    Thanks to Magic, Kareem and Worthy, the 6'8" Rambis could gladly heat up the sideline pine and enjoy scintillating basketball. 5.2 points per game seemed like enough from the goggled giant.

    Kevin McHale relayed our frustrations best during the '84 Finals.

10. Mike Smithson, MLB

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    The '87 World Series Twins had a lights-out front end of the rotation that featured All-Stars Bert Blyleven and Frank Viola.

    But after that came ineffective 6'8" hurler Mike Smithson, who intimidated more often than he produced.

    During Minnesota's championship season, Smithson finished essentially his worst statistical year. With his record of 4-7 and his 5.94 ERA that year, the career 4.58-ERA pitcher should be applauding the Twins for the way they battled through adversity. 

    Although, he was left off the entire postseason roster.

9. Will Perdue, NBA

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    He was SEC Male Athlete of the Year in 1988, and then chosen by the Bulls with the 11th overall pick of the 1988 NBA Draft. And while he didn't contribute statistically, Will Perdue clearly possessed a lucky aura.

    As Center Bill Cartwright's backup between 1991 and 1993, he won three titles with Chicago. The Bulls would eventually trade him to the San Antonio Spurs for Dennis Rodman before the '95 season. But good old Perdue wasn't finished.

    He won his fourth NBA championship with the Spurs in 1999, a year he averaged 2.4 points per game. Pure brilliance.

8. Jay Caufield, NHL

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    Thanks to Mario Lemieux's legendary wrists, Jay Caufield's average of nearly four penalty minutes a game and his three goals in 194 games continues to be hidden behind back-to-back Stanley Cups in '91 and '92.

    A necessary enforcer on a team stacked with delicate talent, Caufield certainly made his mark, if only for a brief time, as he was demoted to the IHL for the '93-'94 season and retired shortly after.

7. Chuck Nevitt, NBA

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    He averaged 1.6 points during his career, but Chuck Nevitt was far more revered for his height than for his athletic ability.

    As an ineffective member of the 1985 Lakers' championship roster, the 7'5" Nevitt remains the tallest player ever to win a NBA championship. Yao Ming must be shaking his head somewhere.

6. Mark Madsen, NBA

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    A running NBA punchline, Madsen is perhaps remembered best for averaging 0.3 points during the 2008-09 season with the Timberwolves.

    But despite averaging a paltry 2.2 points per game during his forgettable career, power forward Mark Madsen has two rings to smile about. Thank you, Kobe.

5. Connie Broden, NHL

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    The only hockey player to win the International Ice Hockey Federation's Ice Hockey World Championships and the Stanley Cup in the same year (1958), Connie Broden is remembered best for making the most of his brief NHL career.

    In just two seasons, he played six games, scored two goals, and won two Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadiens. A breathtaking period of time for the forgotten forward.

4. Brian Scalabrine, NBA

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    He's been called the White Mamba by some, a legend by others. Brian Scalabrine is perhaps the most beloved reserve in sports' history.

    While a career average of 3.1 points per game won't excite statisticians, it sure inspires the public.

    Behind 1.8 points per game in 2007-08, Scalabrine led his Celtics to an illustrious Finals Championship.

3. Adam Morrison, NBA

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    Co-player of the year in his final season at Gonzaga, junior forward Adam Morrison was expected to be the next NBA legend in the making, perhaps a new breed of Larry Bird.

    But after being chosen third overall in 2006 Draft, Morrison established himself as a flagrant bust.

    Following two years in Charlotte and two years in Los Angeles, Morrison was finished with an average of 7.5 points and 2.1 rebounds, and two rings that he's undoubtedly smiling about in a corner somewhere.

    Once again, Jellybean Bryant's son building legends.

2. Trent Dilfer, NFL

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    Few would expect a quarterback with a career rating of 70.2 and 16 more picks than touchdowns to complete a Super Bowl run.

    But with a Ray Lewis-led defense that only allowed 165 points the entire 16-game season, few expected Trent Dilfer to have much of an effect on Baltimore's search for their first title in 30 years.

    12 completions, 153 yards, one touchdown, a huge smile. Dilfer is cemented in history forever.

1. Eddy Curry, NBA

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    The fourth pick of the '01 NBA Draft, massive center Eddy Curry rarely could find the hardwood success that scouts once feared.

    Ignoring his 2006-07 season, Curry essentially destroyed New York's cap space, hope and future, but somehow became a champion...with, of course, the rival Miami Heat.