When you play in such a competitive environment as the NBA, there are many things that you just can't control. Having a Hall of Famer-kind of career or breaking a record is up to you, but winning a ring depends on many factors.
Being lucky, staying healthy, having a team that puts them in a position to succeed, are just some of the few things that have prevented some of the greatest players to ever do it from winning a ring.
That's why today, we're going to honor their legacies and talk about the 10 greatest NBA players who have never won a championship, perhaps the only stain on their otherwise perfect résumés.
Honorable Mention: Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose, Chris Mullin, George Gervin, Reggie Miller, Damian Lillard, George Yardley, Dominique Wilkins, Bob Lanier, Sidney Moncrief.
The Best NBA Players Who Have Never Won A Ring
10. Russell Westbrook
Career Stats: 23.2 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 8.5 APG, 1.7 SPG, 43.7% FG
Accolades: 9x All-Star, 2x Scoring Champion, 3x Assists Champion, 9x All-NBA, All-Rookie, 2x All-Star MVP, MVP
We take Russell Westbrook for granted and normalize him averaging a triple-double but there's nothing normal about that. He's one of the most athletic players in NBA history, a fearless competitor, and a guy that could take every single player in the league one-on-one.
His decision-making is erratic at times but he's never shied away from taking a big shot or taking matters into his own hands. He decided to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to the playoffs even when Kevin Durant left, and hopefully, he'll get a shot at winning a ring.
9. Patrick Ewing
Career Stats: 21.0 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.0 SPG, 2.4 BPG, 50.4% FG
Accolades: Hall of Famer, 11x All-Star, 7x All-NBA, 3x All-Defensive, All-Rookie, Rookie of the Year
Patrick Ewing is one of the countless victims of the toughest Eastern Conference in NBA history. The Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, Boston Celtics, and - of course - Chicago Bulls prevented him from going the distance.
The one time he managed to get to the NBA Finals, the New York Knicks just couldn't do anything to beat Hakeem Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets. Still, Ewing will go down as the greatest player in franchise history.
8. Elgin Baylor
Career Stats: 27.4 PPG, 13.5 RPG, 4.3 APG, 43.1% FG
Accolades: Hall of Famer, 11x All-Star, 10x All-NBA, All-Star MVP, Rookie of the Year
Elgin Baylor is the unluckiest player in NBA history. He dominated in the regular season in an era when the league was ruled by Bill Russell and the Boston Celtics, who won the ring in 11 out of 13 seasons.
The Los Angeles Lakers couldn't win the ring during Baylor's tenure with the team. Nonetheless, he was forced to retire early in the season due to a knee injury, just to watch him win the championship that very same year. That's some tough luck.
7. Steve Nash
Career Stats: 14.3 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 8.5 APG, 1.4 3PG, 49.0% FG, 42.8% 3FG
Accolades: Hall of Famer, 8x All-Star, 5x Assists Champion, 7x All-NBA, 2x MVP
Steve Nash gets a lot of criticism for the MVP awards he won. Some people claim that his numbers were underwhelming and those awards should've been won by Shaquille O'Neal. Well, either those people don't know about basketball or they didn't watch him play.
Steve Nash was by far the best player in the most exciting team in the Association during that time. He was efficient (even joined the 50/40/90 club) and changed the way an offense was orchestrated back then. He was just incredibly talented and impactful.
6. Charles Barkley
Career Stats: 22.1 PPG, 11.7 RPG, 3.9 APG, 1.5 SPG, 54.1% FG
Accolades: Hall of Famer, 11x All-Star, Rebounds Champion, 11x All-NBA, All-Rookie, All-Star MVP, MVP
Charles Barkley only made a couple of mistakes during his career: Winning an MVP, and making it to the NBA Finals. There, he faced an inspired Michael Jordan that was eager to prove that he was snubbed from the award.
Barkley's Phoenix Suns lost in 6 games to Jordan's Bulls and even though he continued to dominate at will despite being an undersized big man, he never got another chance to win the ultimate prize.
5. Karl Malone
Career Stats: 25.0 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 3.6 APG, 1.4 SPG, 51.6% FG
Accolades: Hall of Famer, 14x All-Star, 14x All-NBA, 4x All-Defensive, All-Rookie, 2x All-Star MVP, 2x MVP
Karl Malone is yet another victim of Michael Jordan. He's one of the greatest scorers in NBA history, a dominant two-way force that was going to get whatever he wanted in the paint and that could make grown men look like high schoolers.
The Mailman always delivered. Except when he had to cross paths with Jordan's Bulls in the NBA Finals. The Utah Jazz lost at that stage in back-to-back seasons and Malone tried - unsuccessfully - to win a ring with the Lakers before retiring.
4. James Harden
Career Stats: 25.1 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 6.5 APG, 1.6 SPG, 2.8 3PG, 44.4% FG
Accolades: 9x All-Star, 3x Scoring Champion, Assists Champion, 7x All-NBA, All-Rookie, MVP, Sixth Man of The Year
James Harden went from being the Sixth Man of the Year to an MVP and Scoring Champion in little-to-no time. He broke out as the most unstoppable scorer in the league with the Houston Rockets and is now looking to win his first ring.
Harden has had some tough luck in the postseason, either with subpar performances or injuries. He made it to the NBA Finals with the Oklahoma City Thunder but their lack of experience cost them the ring.
3. John Stockton
Career Stats: 13.1 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 10.5 APG, 2.2 SPG, 51.5% FG
Accolades: Hall of Famer, 10x All-Star, 9x Assists Champion, 2x Steals Champion, 11x All-NBA, 5x All-Defensive, All-Star MVP
John Stockton is considered by some as the greatest pure point guard of all time. He holds the records for most total assists and steals in NBA history and those will stand for a very, very long time.
Stockton was as smart and crafty as he was durable. He rarely missed a game and was the true definition of efficiency. As you may know by now, Michael Jordan kept him from winning a ring in back-to-back seasons.
2. Allen Iverson
Career Stats: 26.7 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 6.2 APG, 2.2 SPG, 42.5% FG
Accolades: Hall of Famer, 11x All-Star, 4x Scoring Champion, 3x Steals Champion, 7x All-NBA, All-Rookie, 2x All-Star MVP, MVP, Rookie of the Year
Allen Iverson is perhaps the most talented player to never win a ring. People called him out for his work ethic but you could never say that he didn't put in the work every single night out there.
Iverson was an offensive juggernaut that single-handedly led his Philadelphia 76ers to the playoffs. But the only time he carried them to the NBA Finals, he had to face Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, and the Los Angeles Lakers.
1. Chris Paul
Career Stats: 18.3 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 9.4 APG, 2.1 SPG, 1.4 3PG, 47.2% FG
Accolades: 11x All-Star, 4x Assists Champion, 6x Steals Champion, 10x All-NBA, 9x All-Defensive, All-Rookie, All-Star MVP, Rookie of the Year
Chris Paul had never made it to the Conference Finals until he joined the Phoenix Suns. He always got hurt, his team blew a lead, or he just had some bad luck. Also, David Stern vetoed his trade to join Kobe and the Lakers.
Even so, Paul is a sure candidate to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He's been the best point guard in the NBA since he entered the league and his basketball IQ is one of the highest of all time. He's the last true point guard.