Winning a championship as a NBA player can prove your true dominance in the NBA during your career. For some people, rings can signify who had the better career, but being ringless does not mean that your career was a failure or terrible. To win a championship, even the best have to find themselves on the right team with plenty of assets to have a chance. Also, injuries, or the way the opponent plays can impact the outcome of a game. There are so many other reasons why many stars could not have won a ring in their career, but let’s look at the best 5 NBA players who did not win a ring.
Honorable Mentions: Pete Maravich, Steve Nash, Reggie Miller, Vince Carter, Dominique Wilkins
5. John Stockton
John Stockton, known for being one of the best passers of all time, is ranked first in career assists (15, 806), and steals (3,285) in the NBA. Even though he has never averaged over 18 ppg in a season, he led the NBA in assists per game from 1988-97, and once averaging 14.5 apg. The ultimate duo of Stockton and Malone in Utah made them very deadly against other teams, especially in the pick and roll. He played his whole 19 year career for the Jazz, and made the playoffs every year. He reached the conference finals five times, and the finals twice in 1997 and 1998, but lost to Michael Jordan’s Bulls both times. If it was not for Jordan, Stockton and the Jazz could have possibly won a championship. Throughout the course of his career, he has achieved 11 All-NBA Team honors, earned a spot on 5 NBA All-Defensive Second Teams, and made 10 All Star appearances. With no ring, Stockton still easily earned a spot in the NBA Hall of Fame, due to his amazing playmaking skills as a point guard.
4. Patrick Ewing
In the past 35 years, one of the greatest things that ever happened to the Knicks was drafting Patrick Ewing with the 1st pick in the 1985 Draft. By the 1987-88 season, they have found themselves in the playoffs for the next 14 years with Ewing. Unfortunately, all of those runs have resulted in a loss, mostly due to the success by Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls, eliminating them from the playoffs five of those fourteen times. Ewing reached the NBA Finals twice in 1994 and 1999. After leading the series 3-2 to the Houston Rockets, they lost the following two games to lose the series in a heartbreak fashion. In the 1999 season, while being the underdogs as the 8th seed, they made their way to the NBA Finals, but lost in five games to the Spurs’ duo of Tim Duncan and David Robinson. In his 17 year career, Ewing averaged in his career 21.0 ppg, 9.8 rpg, and 2.4 bpg. He has 11 All Star appearances (1986, 1988-97), 7 All-NBA Team honors, and 3 NBA All-Defensive Second Team berths. Although he has not won a ring, his jersey is retired by the Knicks, and is in the NBA Hall of Fame.
3. Allen Iverson
With only one final appearance, Iverson struggled to win a championship while having very little help around him. The only year he made the finals was in 2001, where he lost in five games to the Los Angeles Lakers. The only reason why they even won a game was because Allen Iverson scored 48 points in Game 1 to take a 1-0 lead. It was not really Iverson’s fault that he was not able to win a ring in Philadelphia from 1996-2006 with the support he had from his teammates. He had a Dikembe Mutombo who was out of his prime, and Eric Snow and Aaron McKie are not good enough sidekicks to help win a championship. During the 2000-01 season, he won the MVP, and led the league in points and steals by averaging 31.1 ppg, 4.6 apg, and 2.5 spg. From 2006-08, he played with the Nuggets, but were eliminated right away in the first round both seasons. After that, he found himself on the Pistons in 2008-09, Grizzlies in 2009, and back to the 76ers in 2010, and he still did not achieve winning a ring. He officially retired in 2013, after averaging 26.7 ppg, 6.2 apg, and 2.2 spg. He recently joined the NBA Hall of Fame last year, and his jersey has been retired by the 76ers.
2. Charles Barkley
“Sir Charles” is considered to be one of the most dominant power forwards to ever play in the NBA. Only being listed as 6’6”, he was not afraid using his weight in the paint, giving his opponents problems trying to guard and score on him. In his first 8 years of his career, he played for the Philadelphia 76ers, the team that drafted him, but failed to make the finals after six playoff seasons. Then, Barkley went to play for the Phoenix Suns from 1992-96, where he made his only finals appearance in his career during his first season (1992-93) with the Suns. That year, he won the MVP averaging 25.6 ppg, 12.2 rpg, and 5.1 apg, but failed to win the championship, losing in six games to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. For the last four years of his career from 1996-2000, he played for the Houston Rockets, but he was not able to become a champion. Even though Barkley is ringless, he had a very successful career in the NBA, averaging 22.1 ppg, and 11.7 rpg in his career. It seems he is doing quite fine without a ring, while having a great career as a television NBA analyst for Turner Networks Television.
1. Karl Malone
In his 19 year career, Malone failed to win a ring even while making the playoffs every season. Playing alongside John Stockton for most of his career made them one of the most legendary duos the league has ever saw. He always find a way to score from pick-and-rolls, in the post, or mid-range jumpers. Throughout his career, he averaged 25.0 ppg, and 10.1 rpg, ranking second in career points scored (36,928), and sixth in rebounds (14,968). He won the MVP twice in his career, in 1997 and 1999, while being a 14 time All Star, clinching his spot on 14 All-NBA teams, and 4 NBA All-Defensive First Team appearances. Malone reached the NBA Finals twice playing in Utah, in 1997 and 1998, but the Chicago Bulls beat Malone and the Jazz both times in six games. For the final season of his career from 2003-2004, Malone and Gary Payton joined Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal in to win a ring, but with injuries and chemistry problems throughout the season, the Lakers fell short in the NBA Finals, losing in five games to the Detroit Pistons. Reaching the age of 40, Malone retired that season with a bitter feeling of a Finals loss.