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Great NBA Players that Did Not Win an NBA Championship
Last week, Two-time winning MVP Steve Nash retired from the NBA. He never won a league championship so in honor of him, listed are many great players never to have won one and we start with Steve.
Nash was the 15th pick of the Phoenix Suns in the 1996 draft. He made minimal contributions there so in 1998 he was traded to the Dallas Mavericks. In his third season on the Mavericks, he made his first All-Star team, in his fourth season the Mavericks made the NBA Finals. After the 2003-04 season he became a free agent and returned to Phoenix. After the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons he was named MVP and after the 2006-07 season he was Runner-up, missing out on a third in a row. He played in Phoenix through the 2011-12 season and during his tenure, he also was named to 8 All-Star teams. During the summer of 2012 he was traded to the LA Lakers. In the second game of the 2012-13 season, Nash suffered a broken leg. This injury was the beginning of several he would suffer over his 3-plus seasons in LA, deciding to retire in March 2015 after continuing back problems that had kept him from playing in the 2014-15 season.
Reggie played his entire eighteen year career with the Indiana Pacers, being the eleventh pick in the 1987 NBA Draft. When he retired, he was the all-time leader in Three-point shots made. He was also a member of the old medal 1996 Olympic team, a Five-Time NBA All-Star and led the league five times in free-throw accuracy. He may be best noted for his on-court interactions with Spike Lee during playoff games against the NY Knicks in the 1995 series meeting. Miller’s prime years were 1994-2002 and the Pacers were consider one of the best in the East. During this time, the East was also stacked with the Jordan led Bulls, Ewing and the Knicks, and Shaq and the Magic. There were many memorable playoff series’ between the Pacers and these other teams with the Pacers finally breaking through (following Jordan’s retirement) in 2000 to make it to the NBA Finals where they lost 4-2 to the Lakers with Shaq and Kobe Bryant. Miller handed over leadership in 2002 to Jermain 0’Neal and retired in 2005.
The third player picked in the 1982 NBA Draft by the Utah Jazz but traded to the Atlanta Hawks a few months later due to money problems the Jazz were having. His career spanned 17 years with his best being 1983-1994 with the Hawks. During this time, he become known for his spectacular dunks and high scoring games, he finished his career 12th on the all-time scoring list. He was named to the All-Star team nine times and won two Slam-Dunk competitions. His signature game was probably the 7th game of the 1988 Easter Conference Semi-Finals against the Bird led Boston Celtics. The game became a shootout between him and Bird, matched shot for shot in the 4th quarter, Wilkins finished with 47 points but lost 118-116 to the Celtics. He spent the 1995-96 and 1997-98 seasons win Europe, being on the San Antonio Spurs for the 1996-97 season and the Orlando Magic in 1998-99 and retired after that. His nickname is “The Human Highlight Film.”
Bird vs Wilkins, game 7 Duel
“The Mailman” (because he always delivers) was drafted in 1985 by the Utah Jazz. He is considered one of the best power forwards to have ever played and could be considered the best player on this list. He played for the Jazz 1985-2003 and the Lakers for the 2003-04 season. He did play in 3 NBA Finals, 2 with the Jazz that had the misfortune of being one of the teams that made the finals during the Jordan/Bulls dynasty and his third was with the Lakers that lost to the Detroit Pistons. Among Malone’s many awards and highlights are 2 MVPs, 14 All-Star teams, 2 All-Star game MVPs, NBA’s 50th Anniversary All Time Team, and 2nd most career points in the NBA.
Part of the “Dynamic Duo” with Malone, its amazing these 2 guys were not able to win together. Stockton played for the Jazz during the same years as Malone, he was the 16th pick in the 1984 draft and retired in 2003, spent his entire career with the Jazz. When he retired, he was the NBA leader in career assists and steals, both by large margins. Of course the man on the other end of those assists was Karl Malone. Stockton was a 10 time All-Star and won the All-Star MVP once, 9 time NBA assist leader, 1992 Olympic Gold medal team, and the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team.
Ewing was the Number 1 pick of the 1985 draft by the New York Knicks. He played from 1985 through the 2002 season, spending all but the last 2 years with the Knicks. At the end of the 1985-86 season, he was named Rookie of the Year. He was an 11 time All-Star and named to the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team. He was also a 2-time Olympic Gold Medalist, in 1984 and 1992. After the 1984-85 college season, he won all 4 major College Player of the Year Awards (Naismith, AP, Rupp, NABC). The Ewing led Knicks only made it to the NBA Finals once, one of the 2 Jordan “retirement” years, in 1994 but lost to the Hakeem Olajuwon led Houston Rockets (who won both of Jordan’s years off) 4 games to 3. In the series, Ewing set a new record for blocks in a single game in the Finals, with 8.
“The Answer” was the number 1 pick of the 1996 draft by the Philadelphia 76ers. He was named Rookie of the Year after the 1996-97 season. His NBA career spanned 14 years, 1996-2010, spending 10 of them with the 76ers. During his career, he was named to 11 All-Star Teams, was league MVP in in 2001, and won 4 scoring titles (highest season average). He only made it to the NBA Finals once, in 2001, where they were beaten by the Shaq/Kobe led Lakers. During the series, Iverson averaged 35.6 pts/game but they still lost 4 games to 1. His 26.7 career scoring average ranks sixth all-time while his 29.7 playoffs average is only behind Michael Jordan.
“The Round Mound of Rebound” or “Sir Charles” is a person almost everyone knows, especially if you’re reading this article. Charles was the 5th pick in the 1984 draft by the Philadelphia 76ers (2 picks behind Jordan). In his first couple years, he was the youngster on a team that still had Moses Malone and Julius Erving (Dr J) but by the start of the 1989 season, both were gone (Malone traded, Dr J retired) and Charles became the team leader. During his time with the 76ers, he made 6 consecutive All-Star teams and when he was traded after the 1991-92 season, he left as the 4th leading scorer in 76er history and third in highest season average. Charles was traded to Phoenix where he stayed for 4 seasons. It was during this time that he finally made it to the NBA Finals but would lose to Jordan led Bulls. In his first season there, he won NBA MVP and averaged just over 25pts per game. During the following season, 1993-94, he started to experience back pain issues that continued to linger the rest of his career. The 1995-96 was his last in Phoenix and he was traded to the Houston Rockets that had Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler on the team, once again on a team with a chance for a title. His 4 years with the Rockets were plagued with injuries and he retired at the end of the 2000 season. During his career he made the All-Star Team 11 times and was All-Star MVP once, he won League MVP once and finished 2nd once even though he had the most 1st place votes, 2 Olympic Gold Medals (1996, 96), and named to the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team.
My Elite Eight
This is my “Elite Eight,” from what I consider a much better era of basketball than the last 10 years. Who did I leave off? Who do you think is the best of this bunch or do you have another in mind? What about the 70’s? That one is next, coming soon. I hope this brings back some memories, I know it did for me, or maybe you are younger than me and this gives you a couple names you hadn’t heard much about. Let me know what you think in the comments section and be sure to vote on who you think is the best on this list!