Greatest NBA Players Without A Ring

NBA | February 20, 2021

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The Los Angeles Lakers are coming off a tremendous 2019-20 NBA campaign that ended with their franchise’s 17th championship. With the Boston Celtics and Lakers owning 34 of the NBA’s titles, there are many teams and players who have been unlucky during their careers. Those such players make up our list of the greatest NBA players without a championship ring.

4. Chris Paul

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The list kicks off with one of the best point guards in league history, Chris Paul. Although he is on his fifth different franchise in his NBA career, the 35-year-old 10-time all-star has plenty of accolades. While Paul has not won a championship, he owns the best offensive rating in league history, according to Basketball-Reference’s statistic that goes all the way back to 1977-78.

Many players in the league are searching for their first ring like Paul, but he is dominating active players in the following statistics: he is first in Win Shares per 48 minutes as well as all statistics relating to assists and steals. He has also played 109 playoff games and owns the 10th-best Win Shares per 48 minutes in postseason history. NBA fans can hope that the crowded Western Conference does not continue to keep Paul out of the NBA Finals.

3. Charles Barkley

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Charles Barkley is still one of the most famous basketball players in the current era because NBA fans get to see him every week on Inside the NBA on TNT. The lovable commentator is always up for a laugh on Thursday nights even when Shaquille O’Neal makes fun of him being ringless.

The Round Mound of Rebound’s No. 34 was retired by the Philadelphia 76ers, and he was an 11-time all-star selection as well as a five-time All-NBA First Teamer. His lone Most Valuable Player trophy came in 1992-93 with the Phoenix Suns. Then in the NBA Finals, he and the Suns fell short, as the Chicago Bulls took the championship in six games.

Unfortunately, Barkley did not find his way onto the 76ers sooner because the fifth overall pick of the 1984 NBA draft made just one Eastern Conference Finals appearance in his career. In the decade prior to Barkley’s draft, Philadelphia made four NBA Finals appearances and won the 1983 championship.

2. John Stockton

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John Stockton, 2009 Hall of Fame inductee, was one of the league’s iron men, as he played 82 games in 16 of his 19 seasons with the Jazz. The 10-time all-star was the league leader in assists nine times and steals twice. The College Basketball Hall of Fame inductee has his No. 12 retired at both Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City and Gonzaga’s McCarthey Athletic Center.

In Basketball-Reference’s Value Over Replacement Player (VORP) statistic, Stockton ranks as the third-best player in NBA history since 1973-74 behind just LeBron James and Michael Jordan. That is some impressive company for the 6-foot-1, 170-pound guard. In addition, Stockton still owns the record for the most assists and steals in NBA history.

1. Karl Malone

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It is not surprising to see both Stockton and Karl Malone on this list, as Michael Jordan was the reason that the 1990’s Utah Jazz failed to win a title. Malone also played 19 seasons, and he played at least 80 games in 17 of them. In terms of Malone’s career, the Hall of Famer was a two-time MVP, 14-time all-star, and 11-time All-NBA First-Teamer.

Malone’s No. 32 hangs in the rafters in Utah, and he is arguably the best player in franchise history. Even with him ring chasing in 2003-04 with the Lakers, Malone was unable to get a title. While Basketball-Reference has Malone as the fourth-best VORP player behind Stockton, it is Malone’s scoring ability that pushed him to the top spot on this list. Malone’s 36,928 points are second all-time.


Adam Lowenstein

Adam Lowenstein is a freelance sports journalist. He is also a dental resident at Tufts University. While completing his degrees, Adam wrote for numerous websites, covering various professional sports. Adam is a native of Massachusetts, and he attended Washington University in St. Louis when the St. Louis Rams were actually a thing. Adam recently completed his master's degree. In sports, Adam has spent the last couple of years covering the NBA, specifically the Boston Celtics.

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