Best Players Without An NBA Title
The active career leader in double doubles (67), Kidd is one of the best rebounding point guards in NBA history, with a career average of 6.5 a game. Like any true point guard, however, Kidd is a natural passer, and his career average of 9.3 proves that he is one of the all-time greats. After a solid, but not spectacular, first eight years in the league with Dallas and Phoenix, Kidd was traded to New Jersey for Stephon Marbury before the 2001-02 season and has led the Nets to the Eastern Conference finals twice. He's hoping this is the year he finally captures his first championship.
He may have lacked the all-around game of some of his contemporaries, but few could score in as many ways as King. His best season was 1984-85, when as a New York Knick he averaged 32.9 points until a torn ACL forced him to the sidelines for the rest of the season. After two years of rehab, King returned as a member of the Washington Bullets, where he continued his scoring onslaught. But his playoff success peaked while he was with the Knicks, who reached the 1984 Eastern Conference semifinals before bowing out to the Boston Celtics in seven games.
His career averages (16 points, 5 rebounds a game) may not set the world on fire, but few players were as solid on both sides of the ball as the Bucks guard. Moncrief won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 1982-83 and 1983-84, the first two years the award was handed out. The best testament to his ability, however, may be this quote from the Los Angeles Times in which Michael Jordan talks about Moncrief's game: "When you play against Moncrief, you're in for a night of all-around basketball. He'll hound you everywhere you go, both ends of the court. You just expect it." Moncrief's Bucks never advanced past the Eastern Conference finals, and he remains one of the most underrated players in NBA history.
Besides being the Denver Nuggets' all-time leader in total points (21,654 points) and scoring average (25.9 per game), English holds the distinction of scoring the most points in the 1980s (19,682 points), including eight consecutive 2,000-point seasons. He was named to seven NBA All-Star teams and was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1997. Unfortunately for English, his Nuggets only made it as far as the Western Conference finals once (1984-85), and they bowed out to the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers.
He wasn't flashy or a self-promoter, but in 12 seasons Bing earned a reputation as one of the most consistent and solid players of his era. He played in seven All-Star Games and averaged 27 points over a career in which he suited up for the Detroit Pistons, the Washington Bullets and the Boston Celtics. Bing's postseason successes were few and far between as he made it beyond the first round only twice.
Heralded as one of the most exciting players of his era, Wilkins was the face of the Atlanta Hawks franchise, averaging 26.4 points in 11.5 seasons. His greatest playoff memory is a bitter one: In Game 7 of the 1988 Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics, Wilkins and Larry Bird engaged in one of the greatest shootouts in NBA history. When it was over, Wilkins had scored a game-high 47 points (on 19-of-23 shooting) to Bird's 34 points, but the Celtics won 118-116 and advanced to the NBA Finals. Wilkins closed his career by playing with the Celtics and the Magic but never got closer to the title than in that 1988 showdown with Bird.
From the moment he arrived in Philadelphia and won the Rookie of the Year Award in 1996-97, The Answer has been one of the league's most proficient scorers. Despite being only 6-feet, Iverson attacks the rim with reckless abandon and is regarded as one of the toughest players in the league. A seven-time All-Star, Iverson has averaged 28 points over his first 10 years in the league but has only made the NBA Finals once, in 2001-02, when the Sixers lost in five games to the Los Angeles Lakers. Will Iverson stick around Philadelphia for another chance at a title, or will he be traded? That's one of the most intriguing questions of this offseason.
After winning an NCAA championship at Georgetown in 1984, Ewing was drafted first overall by the Knicks in the hope that he could bring the team back to the good old days of Walt Frazier and Willis Reed. Unfortunately, a man named Jordan and his Chicago Bulls were too much for the Knicks to overcome, as they were eliminated from the playoffs by the Bulls five times. It wasn't until MJ's (first) retirement in 1999 that Ewing's Knicks were able to reach the Finals, losing to the Spurs in the strike-shortened 1998-99 season. Ewing was Rookie of the Year, an 11-time All-Star and stands as the New York Knicks' all-time leader in games (1,039), points (23,665), minutes (37,586), field goals made (9,260), field goals attempted (18,224), free throws made (5,126), free throws attempted (6,904), rebounds (10,759), steals (1,061) and blocks (2,758).
He may not have the prototypical NBA body of his counterparts, but Stockton belongs in any debate about the all-time best point guards. The former Jazz great is the NBA's all-time leader in assists (15,806) and steals (3,265) as well as the unofficial king of the pick-and-roll (with his teammate Karl Malone). He failed to win a title in his two NBA championship appearances against the Bulls.
The Iceman's legacy includes the way he made a difficult sport look easy. He was voted to the All-Star team in 12 of his 14 seasons (three ABA, nine NBA) and led the NBA in scoring three years in a row (from 1978 to 1980) and again in 1982. Despite his individual success, Gervin never came closer to an NBA championship than in the 1978-79 season, when his Spurs blew a 3-1 lead over the Washington Bullets in the Eastern Conference finals. In addition to all of his accolades, Gervin is one of only three NBA players who were a teammate of both Julius Erving and Michael Jordan.
The Big Ticket just completed his 11th NBA season and has advanced past the first round of the playoffs only once, when his Timberwolves lost to the Lakers in the Western Conference finals in 2003. But don't blame Garnett, who has a lifetime scoring average of 22 points, 12 rebounds and four assists. He has earned eight trips to the All-Star Game and has been named to the All-Defense team six times. Unfortunately, GM Kevin McHale has failed to put a competent team behind Garnett, who may finally demand a trade so that he can earn the one award he cherishes most: an NBA championship.
Although he may best be remembered for his spectacular four-year college career at LSU, where he set virtually every college scoring record, Pistol Pete has an impressive NBA résumé, playing 10 seasons, earning five trips to the All-Star Game and winning one scoring title. It was his style of play, however, that made him one of his generation's best players. Pistol Pete made the behind-the-back and between-the-legs passes look routine and brought style to the game long before the days of Magic Johnson and Showtime. Maravich averaged 24.2 points for his career, including one 68-point outburst, and 5.4 assists. His playoff record was spotty at best as he advanced only as far as the Eastern Conference finals, which happened when he was little more than a role player for the Boston Celtics in his last season.
He was an NBA force right out of the gate, winning Rookie of the Year in 1959 on his way to becoming an 11-time NBA All-Star, 10-time All-NBA and the league's third all-time leading scorer. But Baylor never won a championship despite making eight appearances in the Finals. He was forced to retire nine games into the 1971-72 season because of lingering knee issues. In a cruel twist of fate, the Lakers went on to win 33 straight games beginning with the game after his retirement and also won the NBA championship.
Forget his antics in the TNT studio -- Barkley was one of the most unique and talented players in NBA history. Though he spent most of his career as an undersized power forward (6-5), the Round Mound of Rebound, as he was often called, averaged 22 points and 12 rebounds in his 16-year career. Like several others on this list, Barkley's best chance at a championship was halted by Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, while Barkley was with Phoenix in 1992-93. He was an All-Star nine times and helped his team to the playoffs every year in which he played.
The numbers are staggering: Malone is the all-time NBA leader in free throws attempted (13,188) and made (9,787), second all-time in points scored (to Kareem Abdul Jabbar), a 14-time All-Star, a 12-time All-NBA and a zero-time champion. The Mailman had his chances, appearing in the Finals twice with the Jazz and once with the Lakers. He'll go down as the best power forward of all time and, for the foreseeable future, as the best NBA player never to win a championship.