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Who is the best NBA player without a ring? Stars who never won the NBA Finals

Who is the best NBA player without a ring? originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Not every legend in the game has the best hardware to show for it.

It’s why it’s often said winning a ring, no matter the sport, is the hardest thing to accomplish. A myriad of factors need to go a player’s way to lift the hardware, ranging from team strength to squad health and general luck.

While some players have led their teams to multiple titles and solidified their individual legacies to go with it, other stars either are yet to or never won a ring throughout their respective years.

Let’s look at some of the best current and NBA players without a ring to their name:

Who is the best NBA player without a ring?

We’ll preface this by acknowledging the subjectivity of the question. The players to be mentioned all have multiple accolades to their name and left their imprint on the sport in some fashion, with the ring being the only thing omitted from their resumes. 

For example, both Charles Barkley and Karl Malone are former NBA players who never won a ring, but have substantial accolades elsewhere. The same goes for current players in Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook, so there’s no one best player who never won a ring. So, let’s some players without a ring while saluting their other achievements.

Charles Barkley, 1984-2000: One NBA Finals appearance, 1993 MVP, 11-time All-Star, 5-time All-NBA First Team, All-Rookie First Team, No. 34 retired by the Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns Ring of Honor, NBA 50th and 75th Anniversary Team

Elgin Baylor, 1958-1972: Eight NBA Finals appearances, 11-time All-Star, 10-time All-NBA First Team, 1959 Rookie of the Year, No. 22 retired by the Los Angeles Lakers, NBA 35th/50th/75th Anniversary Team

Karl Malone, 1985-2004: Three NBA Finals appearances, 2-time MVP, 14-time All-Star, 11-time All-NBA First Team, All-NBA Rookie Team, No. 32 retired by the Utah Jazz, NBA 50th and 75th Anniversary Team

Chris Paul, 2005-present: One NBA Finals appearance, 12-time All-Star, 4-time All-NBA First Team, 7-time All-Defensive First Team, 2006 Rookie of the Year, NBA 75th Anniversary Team

Allen Iverson, 1996-2010: One NBA Finals appearance, 11-time All-Star, 3-time All-NBA First Team, 1997 Rookie of the Year, All-Rookie First Team, No. 3 retired by Philadelphia 76ers, NBA 75th Anniversary Team

Patrick Ewing, 1985-2002: Two NBA Finals appearances, 11-time All-Star, 1-time All-NBA First Team, 1986 Rookie of the Year, All-Rookie First Team, No. 33 retired by New York Knicks, NBA 50th and 75th Anniversary Team

John Stockton, 1984-2003: Two NBA Finals appearances, 10-time All-Star, 2-time All-NBA First Team, No. 12 retired by Utah Jazz, NBA 50th and 75th Anniversary Team

Russell Westbrook, 2008-present: One NBA Finals appearance, 2017 MVP, 9-time All-Star, 2-time All-NBA First Team, All-Rookie First Team, 2-time NBA scoring champion, NBA 75th Anniversary Team

Honorable mentions: James Harden, Steve Nash, Dominique Wilkins, Carmelo Anthony, Reggie Miller, Pete Maravich, George Gervin

How many Top 75 NBA players don’t have a ring?

When the NBA announced its 75th Anniversary Team ahead of the 2021-22 season, 56 of those players had at least one ring. The other 19 either had zero or have yet to win one. 

Here’s a list of those 19 in last-name alphabetical order:

  • Carmelo Anthony

  • Charles Barkley

  • Elgin Baylor

  • Dave Bing

  • Patrick Ewing

  • George Gervin

  • James Harden (active)

  • Allen Iverson

  • Damian Lillard (active)

  • Karl Malone

  • Pete Maravich

  • Reggie Miller

  • Steve Nash

  • Chris Paul (active)

  • John Stockton

  • Nate Thurmond

  • Russell Westbrook (active)

  • Lenny Wilkens

  • Dominique Wilkins

Which NBA player has the most championships?

Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics has the most NBA championships in league history by an individual player with 11. He played in 13 total Finals during his career from 1956-1969.