Baylor may be the unluckiest player on this list because he played in eight NBA Finals but failed to win one. Meanwhile, his beloved Lakers immediately won a Championship after he retired with injury. It was cruel because he was a brilliant player and didn’t hold his team back. Sometimes professional sports are kind to the greatest athletes.
Baylor was an 11-time All-Star and spent his entire career with the Lakers. He joined them when they were still in Minneapolis before moving to L.A. Then he had an excellent career as an executive as he proved that he could work in every facet of the sport. Baylor was one of the best NBA players of the ’60s (via Bleacher Report).
A seven-time All-Star, George is one of the most visible players in the NBA. He had a decent career in Oklahoma City before the Thunder traded him to the Clippers. The franchise paired him with Kahwi Leonard as they hoped to compete with the Lakers. They didn’t succeed in that regard but there’s no denying his brilliance (via Clutchpoints).
He led the league in steals in 2019 and made the All-NBA first team during the same season. Clippers fans hoped that the team would make a strong championship run but they haven’t succeeded so far. Playoff success has been tough to find but there’s no denying that he’s one of the top NBA players without a ring right now.
Bizarrely, many analysts and writers forget about Kemp when they discuss the greatest NBA stars without rings. Indeed, his numbers don’t match some of the other players on this list but he had a brilliant career. He was synonymous with the great Seattle SuperSonics team of the 1990s and even helped them to an NBA Finals (via Deadspin).
However, like many other great players of this generation, Kemp ran into Michael Jordan and the Bulls. Despite this, Kemp played brilliantly in the Finals and came very close to winning the MVP award. This was an exceptional achievement because it always goes to the best player on the victorious team but Kemp’s displays made it very close.
Barkley is another constant on the lists of best NBA players who never won a ring. The former Suns’ superstar was an explosive and combative player despite his lack of height. He put in the performance of a lifetime in the 1992-93 season as he won the league MVP award. Barkley also played brilliantly in the Finals but the Suns failed to overcome Michael Jordan’s Chicago.
There’s no denying that Barkley had an incredible career. Everybody associates him with the suns but he spent longer on the Sixers’ roster. The 11-time roster was one of the most popular personalities in the league and remains in the public eye. He didn’t allow his lack of championship success to define his career (via N.Y. Post).
Westbrook averaged a triple-double per game when he played with the Wizards. Things didn’t work out for the nine-time All-Star after he joined the Lakers but he’s still had a brilliant career. The 2017 MVP had an excellent record with the Thunder, even if they didn’t come close to winning an NBA championship.
There’s no doubt that he’s one of the most decorated players without a Finals ring to his name. That may haunt him when he retires but he has achieved so much already. It’s not his fault that he joined the Lakers when they were on the downturn. Westbrook’s scoring record is beyond belief and he deserves immense respect for that (via Sportsnet).
The Celtics came close to breaking their Championship duck in 2022 but they lost in six games. It was a missed opportunity for Taytum and his teammates after they battled their way to the Finals. However, it means that Tatum remains one of the best NBA players without a ring. He’s hoping to set that right and seal his legacy (via Boston Globe).
The three-time All-Star knows what it takes to win after learning about his trade with the Duke Blue Devils. He also won an Olympic gold medal with Team USA but he’s missing that elusive ring. Only time will tell if he can achieve his dream, but it will be a challenge because of the league’s quality.
These days fans immediately think of Patrick Ewing when discussing the greatest Knicks players ever. However, King held this title before Ewing entered the conversation. He never made a Finals appearance and an ACL injury curtailed his career. Despite this, he posted devastating numbers before his slump.
The four-time All-Star successfully made the Hall of Fame in 2013 after voters recognized his underrated excellence. He led the league in scoring in 1983 as he averaged almost 33 points per game. King could have been a superstar if that ACL didn’t slow him down but he was fantastic in his prime (via Bleacher Report).
McGrady was one of Orlando’s greatest-ever players and a two-time scoring champion. The seven-time All-Star suffered because he played for weak teams that didn’t have the resources to become contenders. When he finally played in the NBA Finals, he only played for a total of 13 minutes (via Basketball Network).
His time in Orlando saw him become the NBA’s Most Improved Player. McGrady didn’t enjoy much more playoff success than this. Despite his relative lack of team success, he did enough as an individual to warrant a place in the Hall of Fame. Nonetheless, he retired without a ring as one of the best of his generation.
If Nikola Jokic didn’t exist, there’s a good chance that Embiid would have at least one MVP award by now. Nonetheless, the Cameroonian star is one of the best NBA players today and a crucial figure for the Sixers. The franchise hasn’t won an NBA championship recently but Embiid hopes to change that.
The five-time All-Star was the NBA Scoring Champion in 2022. Philadelphia suffered defeat in the playoffs after they lost their star man to injury. There’s no overstating his significance to the team because they’re a weaker unit without him. As long as Embiid stays in Philly, they can win a championship someday (via Sportsnet).
It’s easy to see why Iverson is on this list after an explosive 14-year NBA career. The 2001 MVP led his team to the Finals and delivered a scintillating Game One performance. He put up 48 points and five steals for the Sixers against the Lakers as he took the series by storm (via Basketball Network).
However, Philadelphia failed to sustain their good start and lost the series in five games. The 11-time All-Star never came closer to winning a ring despite his best efforts. Nonetheless, he was one of the most entertaining NBA players of his era. It was no surprise that he made the Hall of Fame in 2016 because he was excellent.
Booker is one of the premier shooting guards in the NBA today and one of the league’s most exciting players. He had a brilliant opportunity to win his first championship ring after the Suns made the Finals in 2021. Booker had an excellent postseason but Phoenix fell short as they lost the six-game series.
This makes him one of the best active NBA players without a ring today. Booker has youth on his side but knows that a ring will define him as one of the top athletes of his generation. He has already won an Olympic gold medal and featured on the All-NBA First Team because of his consistent excellence (via TSN).
It’s a travesty that Anthony retired without winning an NBA ring because he was one of the best players of his generation. The 10-time All-Star had a brilliant career with the Nuggets. He helped them to the Conference Finals but never made it to the promised land of the championship (via Fansided).
Then he joined the Knicks and it all went downhill for his hopes of winning a ring. Anthony was still excellent but suffered from injuries at key points. Meanwhile, the erratic Knicks never assembled a roster that was capable of competing. He went on a nomadic tour of the NBA after this but never came close to a win.
Nash’s career shares many parallels with that of John Stockton except that he played for multiple franchises. Nonetheless, Nash also enjoyed incredible longevity and overcame his athletic deficiencies. He won the NBA MVP award twice during his time with the Phoenix Suns and was also an eight-time All-Star.
But Nash never won an NBA Finals despite his best efforts. It’s fair to say that Nash wasn’t as good as Stockton, especially when it came to steals. This meant that he failed to influence the Suns’ postseasons in the same manner. While it’s less of a travesty that he didn’t win a ring, he remains one of the best without one (via New York Post).
It’s always fantastic when a player of Miller’s quality spends their entire career with a single franchise. Miller was a phenomenal sharp-shooter whose loyalty to the Indiana Pacers deserves immense respect. He earned a fortune playing for them but he sacrificed his dream of winning an NBA Championship (via Forbes).
However, the Pacers made the Finals once in his 18-year career in 2000. This was also the first and only time in franchise history that they achieved this landmark. Unfortunately, they came up against the Lakers at the peak of their powers. Miller had a good series but couldn’t outpoint Shaq and Kobe Bryant.
It’s astounding that Paul has failed to win an NBA Finals after such a long career. However, he faces retiring without the coveted prize after he missed a golden opportunity with the Suns. The Bucks ended their long drought but inflicted pain upon Paul and his teammates. Nonetheless, he is one of the best point guards of all time and a true modern great.
Paul passes the ball brilliantly and is a conductor for his teams. The 12-time All-Star led the league in assists for five seasons. He went one better when it came to steals but has a mixed record in the postseason. If he played for the Lakers he might be a multiple-time NBA champion but that never happened (via The Sports Rush).
Maravich enjoyed 10 seasons in the NBA and made the postseason four times. However, he only appeared in the Conference Finals once and failed to win. This means that he’s one of the greatest NBA players who never won a Championship ring. The five-time All-Star also became a Hall of Famer.
Tragically, he died at the age of 40 due to a a heart condition. He had so much more to give to basketball and could have been a brilliant coach. There’s no way to overstate his offensive capabilities because his talent was immense. Maravich was a prolific scorer and led the NBA in scoring in 1977 (via Sportscasting).
Nobody personifies the New York Knicks like Ewing because he is their greatest-ever player. The brilliant center never won an NBA Championship despite playing in two Finals. However, Ewing was one of several great NBA players who missed the opportunity to claim a ring (via The Spun).
That’s primarily because of the Jordan-led Bulls’ dynasty that dominated the ’90s. Ewing was an 11-time All-Star and also made the 1990 All-NBA First Team. His best opportunity to win a ring came against the Rockets in 1994. But the Knicks failed to sustain a series lead and threw the chance away.
Wilkins is a classic example of a brilliant player on a garbage team. He starred for the Atlanta Hawks during an era when they had no real chance of competing against stronger rivals. This was when the Pistons’ “Bad Boys” era was at its peak and the Celtics had a good run too. Despite this, Wilkins stood out as a diamond in a bed of coal (via Sporting News).
He averaged 27 points per game across his 11-year career as one of the top NBA players of his day. Unfortunately, the Hawks failed to build a roster around the nine-time All-Star. One player can’t do everything by himself but Wilkins tried. Many people don’t immediately think of him because he played for Atlanta but he was a modern great.