Ranking the Top 10 NBA Players to Never Win a Championship

Analyst Ryan Kirksey ranks his top 10 NBA players to never win a Championship. Who made the list?
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Ranking the Top 10 NBA Players to Never Win a Championship

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Top 10 NBA Players to Never Win a Championship

10. Dominique Wilkins

Dominique Wilkins, otherwise known as The Human Highlight Film, was one of the best scorers and dunkers the NBA has ever seen. He finished in the top-10 in scoring in nine different seasons and still ranks 14th all-time in career points despite retiring in the year 2000. Wilkins appeared in nine All-Star games and made six All-NBA First or Second teams. While he never won an MVP award, he did finish in the top-10 of voting five separate times and was a no-doubt Hall of Fame selection when he was eligible.

Wilkins never was actually able to come close to sniffing an NBA Championship. Despite making the playoffs 10 times, he only made it out of the first round three times, losing in the Eastern Conference semifinals in all three rounds. Many historians blame the lack of talent around this unbelievable superstar, but the fact that he never even made an Easter Conference Finals leaves him stuck at 10th on this list.

9. Chris Paul

Chris Paul has clearly come much closer than Wilkins in terms of getting that elusive championship. Paul has made the Western Conference Finals twice in his career, losing one time and advancing in 2021. In those epic finals against Milwaukee, the Paul's Suns had a 2-0 lead before losing in seven games to Giannis Antetokuonmpo and the Bucks. And although Paul gets a lot of heat for his playoff performances, it wasn't his fault the Suns lost. Paul averaged 21.8 points and 8.2 assists on 55% shooting in that series.

Paul is quickly climbing the list of the most decorated players to never win a title. He has 10 top-10 MVP finishes, made 12 All-Star games, and made 11 All-NBA or All-Defensive First Teams. He now ranks third all-time in total assists and led the league five times in assists per game. Now with Phoenix, Paul is still chasing that elusive title as he enters his age 37 season.

8. Reggie Miller

Like Paul, Reggie Miller is a decorated scorer, three-point assassin, and perennial All-Star that never could quite get over the Finals hump. Miller ranks fourth all-time in career three-pointers made, 12th all-time in career free throw percentage, and 22nd all-time in career points. All of that, plus he has one of the NBA's most famous playoff highlights ever when he scored eight points in 16 seconds to demolish the New York Knicks on their home turf.

There were many playoff highlights for Miller, although hoisting a trophy was never one of them. He did make the Eastern Conference Finals six times, but only won one of them thanks to the dominance of Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. Miller lost his one appearance in the NBA Finals to another dynasty, the early 2000s Lakers. Miller and company couldn't keep Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant from a dominating 4-2 series win.

7. Steve Nash

The list of modern players to win multiple MVP awards and never win an NBA Championship consists of two names: Karl Malone and Steve Nash. Nash won an MVP in 2005 and 2006 with the Phoenix Suns, and also put up some incredible personal accolades. He was an eight-time All-Star, seven-time All-NBA team member, and led the league in assists in five separate seasons. His fast-paced style of play helped revolutionize basketball into the new style we see today, but it could never quite translate into a championship. All of that adds up to a Hall of Fame slot for the diminutive guard out of Santa Clara.

In fact, Nash never made it past the Western Conference Finals despite appearing in four of them. A combination of the Spurs' dynasty and some bad luck on calls in playoff games kept him off of the biggest stage. Now, Nash coaches the Brooklyn Nets where he is looking to try and take another collection of superstars to an elusive NBA title.

6. George Gervin

No player in NBA or ABA history has such a stark contrast between their individual performances during the regular season and their lack of success in the playoffs. George "The Iceman" Gervin was a 12-time All-Star, he was a seven-time scoring champ, and a seven-time All-NBA selection. Like the others on this list, Gervin was a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame when he was eligible. But his teams absolutely cratered when the playoffs came around.

Gervin was a career 3-13 in his 16 playoff rounds, despite a career 26.5 points and seven rebounds per game in the playoffs. But at his peak in the late 1970s and early 1980s, strong Western Conference teams like the Lakers and Rockets were dominating. In the two years, he won playoff series, Gervin proceeded to lose to the Lakers both times, going a combined 2-8 in those series.

5. Patrick Ewing

Speaking of players - like George Gervin and Steve Nash - who were dominant during the same era as another dynasty, may I introduce you to Patrick Ewing? Ewing just happened to have his most successful run while Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen were running the league. Ewing was able to make it to the 1994 NBA Finals in a year Michael Jordan was retired, but Hakeem Olajuwon brought the Houston Rockets back from a 3-2 series deficit to take the title. Ewing's Knicks would make it back to the 1999 NBA Finals, but Ewing was injured in the Eastern Conference Finals and would not play. They would go on to lose to the San Antonio Spurs.

Ewing was a larger-than-life big man who dominated the league for more than a decade. He would play in 11 All-Star games, make seven All-NBA teams, and three All-NBA Defensive teams. This Hall of Famer who was also one of the most dominant college basketball players the world has ever seen just had tremendously bad luck with his peak coinciding with the Bulls of that era.

4. Allen Iverson

Considering the supporting cast that Iverson had around him for most of his career, the fact that actually made an NBA Finals is something of a major accomplishment. In his 14 seasons, Iverson played in 14 different playoff series, averaging an astounding 29.7 points and 6.0 assists per game. But what many consider his absolute playoff peak was when the Philadelphia 76ers came in and stole Game 1 of the 2001 Finals when the Los Angeles Lakers were heavy favorites to win. Iverson would score 48 points in that one victory, and while the 76ers would be swept the next four, he forever made his playoff mark.

Despite being maybe six feet tall, Iverson played much larger, leading the league in scoring four times, steals three times, and winning the 2001 MVP. In addition, he made 11 All-Star teams and seven other All-NBA squads.

3. Charles Barkley

Perhaps the most vocal in their post-playing careers about the disappointment of not winning a title was Charles Barkley. Of course, it helps that he has a national platform on his TNT NBA show, but Barkley has been very open about the hit that a superstar's reputation takes when they do not win it all. Barkley would be very close to one, losing the NBA Finals 4-2 to the Chicago Bulls in 1993. But he would never make it back there and ended his career with a 12-13 playoff series record.

The Round Mound of Rebound was a force on offense and defense in the 1980s and 1990s. He made 11 All-Star teams, and 11 All-NBA teams, and won the MVP in 1993. A ferocious rebounder and scorer, Barkley was one of the easier selections for the Hall of Fame when he was eligible in 2005. For his career, Barkley averaged 23 points and almost 13 rebounds per game in the postseason.

1. and 2. TIE - Karl Malone and John Stockton

Forever linked through their longtime connection on the Utah Jazz, it would make sense that these two most decorated players to never win a title would share the top spot. Despite making back-to-back Finals appearances in 1997-1998, the Jazz was another team caught up in the Chicago Bulls' hurricane, and they could not break free to take down a championship.

Malone would appear in another Finals late in his career with the Lakers, but could not win that one either. Malone would go on to play in 38 different playoff series while Stockton played in 36. Despite their incredible accolades and locked-in statuses as top-20 all-time players. Neither Stockton or Malone would have a playoff series record over .500 for their careers. Malone would finish 19-19 while Stockton was 17-19.

Between them, they appeared in 24 All-Star Games and 25 All-NBA teams. Stockton is the NBA's career leader in total steals and assists. Malone is still third all-time in career points and seventh in career rebounds.

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Proudest husband and dad you will ever find. When I'm not with my wife and two kids I split my time working in higher ed, grinding DFS and season-long, collecting silver age comics, studying behavioral economics, and drinking coffee. I once played Pat Connaughton in an actual NBA DFS lineup for money. Astros, Rockets, and Texans for life.


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