We all have our list of players who have outstanding ability, but became lost due to playing for mediocre teams. While this is in no way a complete list, I am hoping you can add to my list in the comment section below. I decided to choose players who were active since I started following sports in the mid-80’s. Also, I did not choose any active players, sticking to retirees. This list is #10-#6. After reading this, you will see a link at the bottom for #5-#1, or click here.
So, let’s countdown the top 10 players that never won the championship in their respective sports because of the teams they played for.
10. Charles Barkley’s image has been tarnished as of late as people seem to be waiting for the next ridiculous thing that comes out of his mouth. Wait, how is that different from his playing days? Always edgy, Barkley was the quintessential bad boy (okay, maybe Rodman more so) of the NBA. Raw, nasty and in-your-face, Barkley was honored by playing in 11 all-star games. This power forward is one of only four players to retire with 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 4,000 assists. Named to the list of the “50 Greatest NBA Players in History”, Barkely’s Sixers, Suns and Rockets never won the championship. Like Ewing, Barkley’s career is tarnished by controversy; he mistakingly spat on a young girl in 1991. Regardless, like him or hate him, you can’t challenge his stats and dominance as a “small” power forward.
9. Patrick Ewing was one of a few personalities that carried basketball in the 80’s and 90’s. A dominant rebounder and blocker, Ewing holds more records in those categories than I can possibly mention here. For instance, he holds the record for most games with consecutive blocked shots at 145! The Knicks were a good team because of him, but with the dominance of other Eastern Conference teams like Chicago, Boston, Indiana and Miami, Ewing failed to win an NBA Championship. Unfortunately, the latter part of his career was marked by injuries before he finally retired in 2002, a few years past his expiry date. Also, Ewing’s legacy was damaged with the “Sex Club Scandal” in 2001, but that doesn’t take away his legitimacy in making my list. I didn’t really like his style, but appreciate what he brought to the centre position in the 90’s.
8. Leafs fans might not like to be reminded of how long it has been since they won the cup, but it is important to note because during their drought there have been several fantastic Leafs during that time. With all do respect to Sittler, he wasn’t during my time, but Mats Sundin was. I am not a Leafs fan, but I do have respect for a player of Sundin’s quality and commitment, and it is too bad he never won a cup, or even got a sniff. As the longest-serving non-Canadian or American to captain a team, Sundin scored at least 70 points in every year with the Leafs and led the team in scoring in all but one (lost out to Mogilny by seven points). Sundin scored his 500th goal in 2006, making him the first Swedish born player to do so. Despite all of this, Sundin is missing a Stanley Cup ring.
7. The honour of the only player in the Professional Football Hall of Fame to play for both the NFL and CFL goes to Warren Moon. A legend in the Canadian game for his outstanding run of Grey Cups (Hosers word for “Superbowl”) in the late 70’s and early-80’s, Moon took his game south of the border where he was pivot for the Houston Oilers, Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs. Until very recently, Moon had the career record for passing yardage (surpassed by Damon Allen and Anthony Calvillo of the CFL and Brett Favre of the NFL) as well as career touchdown passes and completions (also surpassed by Favre). Combined CFL and NFL stats give Moon 70,553 yards and 435 touchdowns. This CFL and NFL legend, however, never got a sniff at the Superbowl, falling short each time without a legitimate supporting cast. The closest he came was in the 91 season when the Buffalo Bills stormed back from a 35-3 halftime deficit to win in what would be known simply as, “The Comeback”. So was the career of one of the game’s most gifted passers.
6. I almost don’t need to write anything for you to really understand where I am coming from with the next guy on my list – Jim Kelly. He is the only one on the list that I would argue did have the support needed to win, but due to some circumstances beyond his control, ahem, “wide right”, as well as some super-stacked Redskins and Cowboys teams, I felt he needed to be in this group’s company. Engineering the Bills offence during the Superbowl runs of the early 90’s, Kelly became the punchline for athletes who never managed to win the big one. During his illustrious career, Kelly was a gifted passer with a knack for understanding how to distribute the ball. Unfortunately, he couldn’t do it in any of the four Superbowls.
Okay, there you have 10 through 6 of my list of top athletes never top have won the big one. Click here to continue and see 5 through 1 and see who tops my list. I invite you to start compiling your list and see how yours matches up to mine.
…and that is the last word (almost)
Follow me on Twitter – @LastWordOnSport