Throughout the course of NBA history, great players have won championships. Some have won more than others, with Bill Russell leading the Boston Celtics to an unprecedented 11 titles and Michael Jordan winning a record six Finals MVP awards during the Chicago Bulls’ sole run of dominance.
Just a single championship can alter a player’s legacy, however, as the crowning achievement in a team sport reflects incomparably favorably in the 5-on-5 setting.
It’s generally understood that an individual player has a greater impact on basketball than one would in baseball, football, or hockey. They spend more time in the game, touch the ball on a more consistent basis, and are asked to play more possessions of both offense and defense.
Championships are far from the only reason to praise an individual player, but those who secure that elusive gold receive inevitable and understandable praise.
There have been, however, a legion of players who have failed to win a championship during their Hall of Fame careers. There have been even more who have fallen short of the Hall of Fame but may have just been a title shy of it.
It’s the tallest task in sports, but that’s what the greats are measured against, their peers’ ability to perform in the biggest of moments.
In this article, we will sing the praises of the 50 greatest players who did not win an NBA championship. It will illustrate just how much talent has passed through the Association, as well as how difficult it is to overcome them, or even the other, all-time greats in a postseason setting.
In order to provide context to this list, a few caveats must be put in place
- Only active players who have completed10 NBA seasons will be included.
- No player who won an ABA Championship will make this list. Between 1967 and 1976, the top-heavy talent distribution across both leagues was comparable.
Having addressed the qualifications, the only question that remains is: Who are the 50 greatest NBA players to never win a championship?