This week, I’m continuing the countdown from Part One (#10-6), as I now complete the list with the five greatest players who never won an NBA championship. Here they are:
5. Elgin Baylor (11x NBA All-Star; 1959 NBA ROTY; 2006 NBA EOTY)
Elgin Baylor was, simply put, one of the most complete players ever to play in the NBA. A prolific scorer and rebounder, he averaged a career double-double (27.4 points-per-game, 13.5 rebounds-per-game) and ranks in the top ten all-time in both categories. He was known for his patented hanging jump shot and impressive leaping ability for a man standing just 6’5”. Baylor was also a force in the league after his playing days came to an end, where spent twenty-two years as the General Manager of the Los Angeles Clippers and was named the Executive of the Year in 2006. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977.
4. Patrick Ewing (11x NBA All-Star; 1986 NBA ROTY; 7th all-time in rebounds)
Placing in the top twenty-five all-time in points, rebounds and blocks, Patrick Ewing was one of the most dominating big men of 80s and 90s. Anchoring a talented Knicks squad, Ewing came within one game of not making this list, losing to the Hakeem Olajuwon-led Houston Rockets in a seventh-and-decisive game in the 1994 NBA Finals. Still, his combination of low-post scoring ability and defensive prowess made him a certified superstar, and helped make New York a contender for much of his storied career. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008.
3. John Stockton (10x NBA All-Star; 1st all-time in assists and steals).
With no disrespect to other great point guards of the 1980s and 1990s, John Stockton is statistically the best pure floor general of his generation. His passing ability, especially in the pick-and-roll, as well as his knack from coming up with takeaways on the defensive end, helped cement him in the record books as the NBA’s all-time leading assist and steals man (he also led the Association in assists for nine straight years from 1987-1996). Another part of Stockton’s repuation was his durability, where he played every single game in all but two of his nineteen seasons in the league. Although falling short of glory in two Finals appearances, he helped two USA squads capture Olympic gold in both 1992, as part of the fabled “Dream Team”, and 1996. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009.
2. Charles Barkley (1x MVP; 11x NBA All-Star; 18th all-time in rebounds)
One of the many victims of the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls dynasty in 1993 (his lone Finals appearance), Barkley exemplified the notion that passion and desire can help you overcome physical disadvantages. Undersized for the power forward position at just 6’6”, he not only became one of the best rebounders in the history of the NBA, but is also one of only a handful of players to finish in the top 100 of all five major statisitical categories (points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks). He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006.
1. Karl Malone (2x MVP; 14x NBA All-Star; 7th all-time in rebounds; 2nd all-time in points)
Hailed as one of the best big men ever to play the game, Malone’s longevity coupled with his consistent production makes him, statistically, the greatest player never to win a championship. The only player ever to score more than 30,000 career points without earning a coveted ring, Malone also holds the NBA record for the most consecutive seasons scoring 2,000 or more points (from 1987-88 to 1997-98). What’s more, “the Mailman” was also one of basketball’s great iron men – he ever missed more than two games in the first eighteen out of nineteen seasons he played in the league.
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Malone Photo Credit: Lipofsky, Wiki Commons, CC