Greatest NBA players to never win a championship (Part I)
Not all greats can call themselves champions.
By "Mr. Basketball" Michael Illiano
Though tasting the title gold was not meant to be for some NBA players. In the game of basketball, championships measure a player's greatness more than any other sport.
In my view, championships (or lack there of) should not necessarily diminish a player's greatness. In some cases, players run into dynasties like Jordan’s Bulls. Others falter under pressure (See: Webber, Chris).
Here is my in-depth list of the NBA’s 10 greatest players to never win a championship.
Agree? Disagree? Let us know.
Honorable mentions aka the athletes that just barely missed the cut: Allen Iverson, Bernard King, George Gervin, and Walt Bellamy.
Check out Part II: 5-1.
10) Pete Maravich
I might get some flack for having this name on the list, but Maravich’s flash as a player was second to none.
He had out-of-this-world shooting and dribbling. The man dubbed “Pistol,” sporting floppy socks as his trademark, was born to score and brought a style to the NBA that was unseen before. Maravich would practice all sorts of drills that probably haven't been done for 20 years.
On one fateful night in 1977 against the New York Knicks, Maravich would torch them via 68 points.
Maravich’s on-court dominance is the stuff of legend and most of it came from hard work and practice. The five-time All-Star put up an astounding 44 points per game average over a three year career at LSU, making him the greatest scorer in college basketball history.
Those who watched Larry Bird can see the influence that Maravich had on his game. Maravich understood the art of the pump fake, perfected the dribble, and had a sweet stroke from any distance. He was the closest thing to the NBA's version of a Harlem Globetrotter.
Some may debate that the flashiness hurt his chances at a title, but he was never blessed with a great supporting cast for most of his prime; spent with the Atlanta Hawks and New Orleans (now Utah) Jazz.
For most of Maravich's career, the NBA Playoffs were something he didn't see too often, but it never stopped him from putting on a show--and putting up big numbers.
Later in his career, Maravich tore his knee up and along with the lack of playoff wins, ended up tainting his NBA legacy.
But here is a final thought on Maravich to ponder:
Maravich was known for being an expert marksman shooter, yet most of his career, there was no three-point line. In his final season, the NBA finally adopted the three-point shot. Maravich, who only played 43 games for the Boston Celtics due to injury, knocked down 10 of the 15 three pointers he attempted.
To add insult to injury, he retired one year too early, as the Celtics won the NBA Championship the following year.
9) LeBron James
LBJ, The King, Chosen One, whatever. The most hated man in sports currently ranks number nine on this list.
LeBron will have a multiple chances to get off this list in his career because he is still in his prime. But.......
His playoff failures are becoming pretty epic.
Regardless of what anyone thinks of LeBron personally, he still is a major talent. LeBron is a two-time MVP (back-to-back seasons), which is something not many greats can boast. Injuries aside, he will have 20,000 points before age 30. Perhaps his efforts are over-hyped, but his talent is not by any means and the numbers show that.
He is essentially Dominique Wilkins with a passing game and ‘Nique was no slouch.
Three times in his career LeBron had his team as the perennial favorite to win the title, but came up short. I wanted to leave him off this list, but now it is getting to the point with him as if it is "now or never." He doesn't strike me as the player that will be the savvy veteran who wins later in his career.
LeBron has to win now, while all the strong parts of his game still have their spring. It’s almost a given he is going to put up some ungodly numbers the rest of his career.
He has already won the MVP award, been selected on the All-Defense team, won the All-Star Game MVP, Rookie of the Year, and every other individual award in between.
One thing still eludes LeBron is the NBA Championship. The self-proclaimed “King” needs to be really careful because this list could be revisited in 10 years and his name could be number one.