Best Players Without An NBA Title
The Mailman lost twice to Michael Jordan and the Bulls in the Finals while in his prime with the Jazz. Then, in the final season of a career in which he finished as the No. 2 scorer of all time and won two MVPs, Malone couldn't prevent the Lakers from being outclassed by Detroit in the Finals.
The spectacular 6-5 forward averaged 27.4 points and 13.5 rebounds in 14 seasons with the Lakers, who ran up against Bill Russell's Celtics throughout Baylor's tenure. A knee injury ended Baylor's 1970-71 season after two games -- the same season the Lakers ripped off an NBA-record 33 victories and won the championship.
Sir Charles played on 50-win teams with three franchises (Philadelphia, Phoenix and Houston). The 1992-93 Suns were the best of those teams, as Barkley led them to an NBA-high 62 victories, won the MVP award and made his first and only Finals, where Phoenix lost to the Bulls in an entertaining six-game series.
Like pick-and-roll partner Karl Malone, Stockton piled up individual accolades (all-time leader in assists and steals, 10 All-Star appearances) and spearheaded Utah's sustained run of excellence but couldn't surmount Michael Jordan's Bulls in the Finals.
The two-time MVP has reached the conference finals three times with Phoenix but never advanced to the championship round. The Suns had a surprise run to the West finals in 2009-2010 but followed it up by missing the playoffs at 40-42.
One of the NBA's great centers (career averages: 21 points, 9.8 rebounds) certainly had his chances with the Knicks, most notably in 1994 when New York lost Games 6 and 7 of the Finals at Houston.
The Answer's only trip out of the second round came in his MVP season, in 2001, when he closed within three wins of a title after guiding the underdog 76ers to a Game 1 victory against the host Lakers in the Finals. The Lakers, however, rebounded to win the next four games. After that, the four-time scoring champ jumped from Philadelphia to Denver to Detroit to Memphis and back to Philadelphia again. He played with a Turkish team in 2010 after NBA teams passed on signing him as a 35-year-old free agent.
The Ice Man, a four-time scoring champ with a career NBA average of 26.2 points, was part of a Spurs team that squandered a 3-1 lead to the Washington Bullets in the 1979 Eastern Conference finals.
In terms of the playoffs, the Human Highlight Film is remembered best for his scintillating duel with Larry Bird in Game 7 of the 1988 Eastern Conference semifinals ... which the Hall of Famer Wilkins' Hawks lost 118-116.
Maravich never played on a serious contender in the prime of a career in which he averaged 24.2 points over 10 seasons. In his final season, he played limited minutes for the Celtics, who went 61-21 before losing to the 76ers in the Eastern Conference finals.
Nobody scored more points in the '80s than English, who set an NBA record with eight consecutive 2,000-point seasons. But English's offensive-minded Nuggets teams went as far as the conference finals just once, in 1985, when Denver was trounced by the eventual champion Lakers.
The Lakers (near the start of Dantley's career) and the Pistons (near the end of Dantley's career) won titles immediately after trading the prolific scorer. In between, Dantley, a former Rookie of the Year and two-time scoring king, spent his prime years with non-title-contending Utah.
The former scoring champion (and notable Hall of Fame snub to many) won one playoff series in his career (during which he lost nearly two full seasons of his prime to a knee injury). King's Knicks memorably lost in seven games to eventual champion Boston in the 1984 Eastern Conference semifinals.
The former Pistons guard couldn't deliver a title to Detroit, where he's now the mayor, but he did win Rookie of the Year and All-Star MVP in his Hall of Fame career.
Thurmond made the Finals twice but had the misfortune of meeting Bill Russell's Celtics and Wilt Chamberlain's 76ers in those series. The Warriors traded the rebounding and defensive ace the year before they won the 1975 title.
The two-time Defensive Player of the Year won division titles in his first seven years with Milwaukee but that regular-season success never translated into a single Finals berth.
The knock on the explosive scorer and perennial All-Star has always been his teams' lack of playoff success. Carter had a chance to redefine his reputation with the Magic in the 2010 playoffs but struggled in a conference-finals loss to Boston. Orlando traded Carter to Phoenix early in the 2010-11 season, and he latched on with the Mavericks for 2012, only to fall in the first round.
If only Webber's Kings had gotten past the Lakers in the controversial 2002 Western Conference finals -- surely Sacramento could have dominated the Nets in the Finals like L.A. did. In fact, Webber played on four 55-win teams with the Kings without a Finals appearance to show for it. Webber's crunch-time shortcomings have led to much debate surrounding his Hall of Fame candidacy.
One of the league's great shooters had several signature playoff moments, many against the Knicks, and he made the playoffs 15 times in an 18-year career, all with the Pacers. But his only trip to the Finals came in 2000, when the Pacers lost to the Lakers in the first of L.A's three consecutive titles.