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Slick Pinkham
01-31-2007, 05:13 PM
http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/insider/columns/story?columnist=hollinger_john&id=2749303&action=login&appRedirect=http%3a%2f%2finsider.espn.go.com%2fnba %2finsider%2fcolumns%2fstory%3fcolumnist%3dholling er_john%26id%3d2749303

The 30 best never to win The Big One

By John Hollinger
ESPN Insider

The trading deadline is coming up, which means not only is trade rumor season upon us, but also trade demand season. This is usually the time when frustrated stars let it be known that they'd like to be playing for a championship instead of golfing every April.

Take Kevin Garnett, for instance. For a dozen years he's toiled in Minnesota, and yet hasn't come close to winning a championship. He's been one of the league's five best players for about a decade now, but his only taste of a playoff run came in 2003-04 when the Timberwolves made the conference finals.

In a league with 30 teams, it's hard for every good player to win a ring. Inevitably a few, such as Garnett perhaps, will see their entire careers pass without a victory parade.

In fact, KG's in quite esteemed company. In looking at this, I was surprised to realize just how many great players have failed to win the game's ultimate prize.

With all-time greats like Garnett and Steve Nash on a quest for the elusive ring, let's look at the 30 best players never to win a championship, and how they managed to fall short.

A few notes before we begin. First, I didn't consider anybody younger than 30 for this list -- players such as Dirk Nowitzki, LeBron James and Gilbert Arenas still have plenty of time left to win a ring. Second, for those players who are still active, I considered their place on the list as though they retired today -- we can't assume future accomplishments.

Finally, because statistical data from the NBA's early days is less complete, I leaned heavily on more generic measures -- All-Star berths, All-NBA selections and MVP awards.

Keep in mind that the point of this list isn't to determine whether George Gervin was better than Dominique Wilkins; it's to point out that both fell short of the ultimate prize, much like Garnett has to date.

That said, here's one man's ranking of the 30 best never to win The Big One:


1. Karl Malone (1985-2004)
Thank you, Michael Jordan. Malone's Utah Jazz teams won the conference title twice, but couldn't knock Jordan off his pedestal and weren't quite ready to seize the day during Jordan's two-year retirement. Then the Mailman got hurt during the 2004 Finals with the Lakers. So the greatest power forward of all time has no bling to show for it.

2. Charles Barkley (1984-2000)
It's ironic to hear him repeat over and over that the Phoenix Suns won't win the title this year because they aren't committed to defense. He should know -- his 1993 Phoenix Suns didn't win the title because they weren't committed to defense. That was Chuck's only trip to the Finals.

3. Kevin Garnett (1995-present)
Sometimes you get only one shot. Garnett's Wolves fell short against L.A. when Sam Cassell's body broke down in 2004 and were never heard from before or since. Not since the Cincinnati Royals of the 1960s (with Oscar Robertson) has a franchise managed to get an All-Era caliber player and still be this mediocre.


Top 10 under 30 without a ring
(in terms of career accomplishments, not current ability)

1. Dirk Nowitzki (1998-present)
2. LeBron James (2003-present)
3. Tracy McGrady (1997-present)
4. Elton Brand (1999-present)
5. Yao Ming (2002-present)
6. Jermaine O'Neal (1996-present)
7. Shawn Marion (1999-present)
8. Amare Stoudemire ('02-present)
9. Gilbert Arenas (2001-present)
10. Carlos Boozer (2002-present)

4. Elgin Baylor (1958-1972)
The first truly great player to retire ringless, Baylor hung up his sneaks early in the 1971-72 season, only to see the Lakers rip off 33 straight and take their first L.A.-era crown. Baylor played in eight NBA Finals and lost all of them, including three Game 7 losses to the Celtics.

5. John Stockton (1984-2003)
Jazz legend Stockton had the same problem Malone did -- the dude wearing No. 23 for the Bulls. Little-known fact -- it was he, not Jordan, who took the final shot in the memorable 1998 series that served as the (first) farewell of His Airness.

6. Patrick Ewing (1985-2002)
It was "this is our year" every year for the Knicks' big man, but he was another one who couldn't navigate his way past the Jordannaires. Unfortunately, when Jordan briefly retired, Ewing had John "2-for-18" Starks as his wingman. In 1999, the Knicks made a Finals run with Ewing sidelined.

7. Allen Iverson (1996-present)
The Answer made the Finals once but was steamrolled in five by a Shaq attack. At least he's got one more shot at it, as the Nuggets seem poised to make a run at the crown -- with the biggest push likely coming a year from now.

8. Steve Nash (1996-present)
Has come up with the short end of the stick in three conference finals with two different teams, but I have a feeling he'll be off this list by the end of June.

9. George Gervin (1972-1986)
The Ice Man couldn't finger-roll past the Bullets when his team was in the East, and couldn't beat the Lakers when they moved to the West. Biggest letdown was probably in '79, when the Spurs blew a 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference finals, dropping the clinching game by two.

10. Dominique Wilkins (1982-1999)
Couldn't get past Larry Bird as a young man, or his own team's management as an older one. The Hawks won East-best 57 games in 1993-94, but inexcusably traded 'Nique for Danny Manning at midseason and limped to a second-round defeat in playoffs.

11. Grant Hill (1994-present)
Now that his career has turned into a Greek tragedy, it's easy to forget how good he was those first six years in Detroit. Unfortunately, his only contribution to a title was the sign-and-trade deal that gave the Pistons Ben Wallace. His teams have never won a playoff round.

12. Chris Webber (1993-present)
The ghost of whatcouldabeen haunts him as badly as anyone on this list -- the missed free throws and technical foul in the Kings' Game 7 OT loss to the Lakers in 2002 and the missed 3 at the buzzer in Game 7 against Minnesota in 2004. (And of course, that fateful timeout call against North Carolina.)

13. Jason Kidd (1994-present)
Made the Finals in consecutive years as a Net, but that was as much due to the weakness of the East as the team's own excellence, and neither club was quite ready for prime time. If he gets another shot at it, one doubts it will come as a Net.

14. Alex English (1976-1991)
His run-and-gun Denver teams were easy on the eyes, but were squashed in five by the Lakers in his one trip to the conference finals.

15. Adrian Dantley (1976-1991)
The tough-luck guy of the group, as the Lakers and Pistons both won championships right after trading him. He was a big part of the Pistons team that narrowly lost in seven to L.A. in 1988, but his best years were spent on a Utah team that never had a chance.

16. Vince Carter (1998-present)
The newest addition to the list -- he turned 30 five days ago -- current Net Carter has his diploma, yes, but never has advanced as far as the conference finals. Graduation Day 2001, with the miss at the buzzer against Philly in Game 7, was his best shot as a Raptor.

17. Dikembe Mutombo (1991-present)
The finger-wagging defensive ace made the Finals twice in his 30s -- once as a Sixer, once as a Net -- but Shaq and Duncan proved too much to overcome. His best playoff moment came earlier, in the Nuggets' improbable first-round upset of Seattle in 1994.

18. Bernard King (1977-1993)
King was impossible to cover, but you'd never know it from looking at his teams, most of which were well out of contention. The one exception was in '84, when his Knicks valiantly took eventual champ Boston to seven games before succumbing.

19. Sidney Moncrief (1979-1991)
The defensive ace was the best player on Don Nelson's Milwaukee teams that won six straight division titles, but he couldn't get past Boston and Philly in the crowded East. In three trips to conference finals, his Bucks won a total of two games.

20. Ray Allen (1996-present)
Big Dog's missed bunny in Game 5 of Eastern Conference finals in 2001 was probably Allen's best shot, but in truth that probably only saved his centerless Bucks a savage beating at the hands of Shaq in the Finals. His Sonics took the eventual champion Spurs to six tough games in 2005; otherwise he's never been close.

21. Nate Thurmond (1963-1977)
The shot-swatting giant made one trip to the Finals, in '67, and for his efforts he got to guard Wilt Chamberlain. Suffered a similar fate to Dantley at the end of his career, as Golden State traded him to Chicago and then immediately won it all in 1975.

22. Dave Bing (1966-1978)
This longtime Piston might have had the worst teams of anyone on this list -- in a dozen seasons he made the playoffs only five times, and only one of those came before age 30. His best shot came late, as a Bullet, but like Thurmond left a year before they won it all.

23. Kevin Johnson (1987-2000)
Barkley's teammate in Phoenix also suffered heartbreak pre-Charles. His Suns waxed the defending champion Lakers in five in 1990, only to lose the conference finals to Portland -- with the losses coming by 2, 1, 6 and 3.

24. George Yardley (1953-1960)
The 1950s scoring machine suffered heartbreak with Fort Wayne in the long-forgotten but incredibly intense 1955 Finals. The Pistons lost in seven to Syracuse, dropping Game 7 by one after blowing a 17-point lead and getting the short end of a controversial no-call at the end.

25. Pete Maravich (1970-1980)
Pistol played on just one good team in his prime, winning 46 games and taking Atlanta to the second round of the playoffs in 1973 before falling to the Celtics in six. He finished up with Boston, but left a year too early to collect a ring.

26. Richie Guerin (1956-1970)
Guerin was a mainstay on some of New York's worst-ever teams, never sporting a winning record from 1957 to 1964. Traded to the Hawks late in his career, he made two conference finals but lost in both.

27. Jack Twyman (1955-1966)
Ask a friend to name all the players to average 30 or more points a game in a season in the last half-century, and see how long it takes him or her to come up with "Jack Twyman." He did it as the Big O's sidekick in Cincy in 1960-61, but the Royals didn't make the playoffs that season or most other years.

28. Tim Hardaway (1989-2003)
The knuckleball-shooting guard won four straight Atlantic Division titles with Miami -- and in that time, made it out of the first round of the playoffs once. His Heat got to the '97 conference finals before Jordan and Co. devoured them, but the loss that really stung was the first-round defeat to the eighth-seeded Knicks in '99.

29. Bob Lanier (1970-1984)
His Pistons teams in the '70s never had a shot, but late in his career he shared Moncrief's heartbreak as a member of Nellie's Bucks.

30. Reggie Miller (1987-2005)
A perennial bridesmaid despite several careers' worth of clutch shots, as his Pacers fell to L.A. in their one shot in the Finals. Perhaps the bigger heartache is the five conference finals they lost, including three Game 7s. In '98 his Pacers led Jordan's Bulls with five minutes to go before falling, and in '94 his club blew a double-digit second-half lead against New York.

John Hollinger writes for ESPN Insider. To e-mail him, click here.

croz24
01-31-2007, 05:30 PM
hollinger's a joke. that's all that needs to be said...

tdubb03
01-31-2007, 05:57 PM
hollinger's a joke. that's all that needs to be said...

I think just the opposite. I'm a big fan of Hollinger.

What, since Reggie isn't #1 it's a bad article?

Edit: I do realize this a pretty crappy list. I don't think current players should be included in this list whatsoever.

mike_D
01-31-2007, 06:12 PM
I think just the opposite. I'm a big fan of Hollinger.

What, since Reggie isn't #1 it's a bad article?

No the fact that he has Mutumbo on that list is a reason why. When you think of an article like this I tend to think of stars who got close not just one time but many times and I consider ECF/WCF game 7's pretty close to winning it.I picture guys like Reggie,Malone,Ewing,Malone ect.I don't picture guys like Carter,R. Allen and especially not Mutumbo to be on that list.

Major Cold
01-31-2007, 06:25 PM
No the fact that he has Mutumbo on that list is a reason why. When you think of an article like this I tend to think of stars who got close not just one time but many times and I consider ECF/WCF game 7's pretty close to winning it.I picture guys like Reggie,Malone,Ewing,Malone ect.I don't picture guys like Carter,R. Allen and especially not Mutumbo to be on that list.

No joke. People have been comparing Reggie's career to Dumars and he is 30?

Ray Allen is on that list and I am pretty sure that Reggie is ahead of him in scoring and 3pt made. Plus Allen has never made it to the finals. To put Miller on the bottom of this list is ridiculous.

Bing and King behind Kidd. that is dumb

Cactus Jax
01-31-2007, 06:36 PM
Yeah that's a horrible list... how is Grant Hill #11? Yeah its a great story but like the article says, he's never been out of the first round, while Reggie led a team to the finals. And how is Stockton 5th while Malone is #1?

Players Reggie should be ahead of:

George Gervin
Grant Hill
Chris Webber
Jason Kidd
Vince Carter
Dikembe Mutombo
Ray Allen
Kevin Johnson...wtf
Pete Maravich (entertaining player, but probably his biggest acheivment comes from being the all time NCAA scoring avg. leader)
Richie Gueren
Tim Hardaway

LoneGranger33
01-31-2007, 06:41 PM
Is Steve Nash really an All-Time great?

bulldog
01-31-2007, 06:49 PM
Is Steve Nash really an All-Time great?

Two-time, and perhaps three-time, MVP. Hell yes.

LoneGranger33
01-31-2007, 06:51 PM
Two-time, and perhaps three-time, MVP. Hell yes.

It's too soon for me.

AesopRockOn
01-31-2007, 06:53 PM
It really is a slap in the face to an NBA great. I hope he receives many angry e-mails.

Trader Joe
01-31-2007, 07:14 PM
Ray Allen ahead of Reggie? BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA Thats rich.

FlavaDave
02-01-2007, 11:27 AM
Ray Allen ahead of Reggie? BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA Thats rich.


Seriously. I mean, he is a Reggie clone except a) not as good, and b) nowhere near as accomplished.

I can't think of a single reason why Allen could possibly be justified as a pick over Reggie. I mean, does Ray Allen even have a shot at the Hall of Fame?

FrenchConnection
02-01-2007, 11:34 AM
Yeah that's a horrible list... how is Grant Hill #11? Yeah its a great story but like the article says, he's never been out of the first round, while Reggie led a team to the finals. And how is Stockton 5th while Malone is #1?

Players Reggie should be ahead of:

George Gervin
Grant Hill
Chris Webber
Jason Kidd
Vince Carter
Dikembe Mutombo
Ray Allen
Kevin Johnson...wtf
Pete Maravich (entertaining player, but probably his biggest acheivment comes from being the all time NCAA scoring avg. leader)
Richie Gueren
Tim Hardaway

I think that you are underestimating the greatness of George Gervin. The rest I agree with.

croz24
02-01-2007, 12:20 PM
I think just the opposite. I'm a big fan of Hollinger.

What, since Reggie isn't #1 it's a bad article?

Edit: I do realize this a pretty crappy list. I don't think current players should be included in this list whatsoever.

no, because his list is a joke from top to bottom.

Shade
02-01-2007, 12:48 PM
:lol: @ this list

That is all.















Oh, what the hell. I'll throw in a :rolleyes: as well.