The NBA Playoffs are in full throttle so it's a great time to walk down memory lane and remember forgotten players who won an NBA championship. There were five franchises that won an NBA championship in the 2000s. The Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs dominated the 2000s and created some epic feuds to revitalize the league. Although a few stars dictate the success of an NBA team, it’s still a team sport and many players may not have had the greatest stats but still played a significant role on the team.
Whether it was be a warm body in practice or having a key role on the second unit, many teams may not have won a championship without these types of players. Some of these ballers are still in the league, others have left the sport for good and a strong portion still work in an basketball environment after retiring. A lot of you may remember a certain player on this list because he was a member of your favorite team, however, there are many casual and new fans that never watched basketball in the 2000s. Lace up your sneakers, stretch your legs, and get ready to run down memory lane one more time.
15 Michael Doleac
The behemoth center was drafted by the Orlando Magic with the 12th overall pick in the 1998 NBA draft. Doleac wouldn’t taste an NBA championship victory until 2006 when he was a member of the Miami Heat. He would ride the bench and would only play 1.2 minutes in the 2006 NBA Finals. Although he didn’t contribute on the team, he still has a ring and will be part of a prestigious group of individuals.
After a ten year career, Doleac would become a graduate manager for the University of Utah men’s basketball team, his Alma mater. Instead of staying retired, Doleac would pursue his dream of becoming a doctor at Utah. Today, he teaches physics and coaches the men’s varsity basketball team at Park City High School in Park City, Utah.
14 Shandon Anderson
Shandon Anderson had a taste of the NBA Finals as a member of the Utah Jazz in 1997 and 1998 but a legendary player named Michael Jordan would ruin his chance at a ring early on in his career. Anderson wouldn’t win a championship until a decade later as a member of the Miami Heat’s 2005-06 team. He would be a role player and just play 48 games that season and just average 7.7 minutes in the NBA Finals.
Anderson would retire after the season and pursue a career as a chef. He would attend the Living Light Culinary Institute, Raw Cooking School, Natural Gourmet Institute, and completed an internship at Candle 79 several years after retirement. Anderson, a vegan, would open his first restaurant, Drink Art, in his hometown of Atlanta in 2014. Unfortunately, the restaurant closed down a year later but Anderson is still pursuing his dream as a vegan chef.
13 Tyronn Lue
Tyronn Lue won the NBA Championship his first year as head coach for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016 and he may win another title this year. Many fans may not realize Lue also one two championships as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers in 2000 and 2001. As a role player, he was best remembered as the player who tried to stop Allen Iverson in the 2001 NBA Finals.
He would never become a full-time starter for any team and eventually retired in 2009 to pursue a career in coaching. Today, Lue is leading the Cavaliers to another championship run. You may argue he doesn’t matter because it’s LeBron's team, however, his name and legacy have been cemented as an NBA Finals winner.
12 Beno Udrih
He’s the second active NBA player on the list but everyone forgets Beno Udrih won two NBA championships as a member of the San Antonio Spurs in 2005 and 2007. He would be drafted 28th overall and would have an immediate impact on the Spurs as a role player. Udrih would average 14.4 minutes and 5.9 points per game in his first season.
The rookie also played 21 games in the playoffs that season, helping the Spurs to a title. He would become a journeyman after his time with the Spurs. Udrih would bounce around with the Sacramento Kings, Milwaukee Bucks, Orlando Magic, New York Knicks, Memphis Grizzles, and Miami Heat. Today, he plays for the Detroit Pistons but couldn’t help the team reach the playoffs.
11 Sam Cassell
Sam Cassell already won two NBA championships as a member of the Houston Rockets in the 1990s but many people forget he earned one more ring as a member of the Boston Celtics in 2008. Cassell was neither the flashiest player nor the most athletic but his IQ and hustle made him one of the better point guards in the league.
He almost didn’t get the third ring because at the beginning of the 2007-08 season he was a member of the Los Angeles Clippers. They would buy out his contract in February and he would sign with the Celtics in March. Sam would go out on top and retire after winning the NBA Finals. Today, Cassell is putting his basketball knowledge to good use. He's an assistant coach for his former team the Clippers.
10 Adam Morrison
He was a first-team All-American, the NCAA Division I scoring leader, WCC Player of the Year and was drafted by the Charlotte Bobcats as the third overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft. Things were looking up for Morrison in 2006, however, he would become one of the biggest busts in the history of the NBA Draft. You can make the argument his devastating knee injury that derailed his second season in the NBA was a major factor in his downfall or his battle with diabetes but it still stands, Morrison did absolutely nothing during his tenure in the league.
Although he wasn’t productive, he would ride the bench of the Los Angeles Lakers from 2008-2010 and win two championship rings. Today, Morrison is enjoying the retirement life with his family. He has volunteered at his former junior high school and usually golfs with his buddies. He was last seen cheering his former collegiate team, Gonzaga, at the NCAA Division I Finals.
9 Matt Bonner
The “Red Rocket” Matt Bonner is another player that benefited from the San Antonio Spurs awesome system and dynasty. After playing two years with the Toronto Raptors, Bonner was traded to the Spurs for Rasho Nesterovic. It was one of the luckiest things to every happen to him. He would be a legitimate role player for the Spurs, and in the 2007 NBA Finals, Bonner would attribute 11.7 minutes, 4.9 points, and 2.8 rebounds per game during the NBA Finals.
Bonner would spend the rest of his NBA career with the Spurs and help them win another championship in 2014. He would retire from the game in 2016 and is currently involved with his non-profit organization, Rock On Foundation. Don’t be surprised to see him work for the Spurs in some capacity in the new future.
8 Bruce Bowen
Bruce Bowen would be one of the veteran leaders to help Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili win three NBA championships (2003, 2005, 2007) in the 2000s. It’s pretty easy for fans to not remember Bowen’s contributions because he was overshadowed by legendary talent, but the veteran held his own. He would become a five-time NBA All-Defensive First Team (2004-2008) and had his number (12) retired by the San Antonio Spurs.
After eight years with the Spurs, he would be traded to the Milwaukee Bucks in 2009 and retire. After retirement, Bowen would be involved in several ESPN programs as an NBA analyst. He has been seen on ESPN’s SportsCenter, NBA Tonight, and NBA Coast to Coast. He's currently involved in a podcast with Israel Gutierrez called NBA Lockdown.
7 Tony Allen
Tony Allen may not have had the best offensive game but his defense was lethal. He would earn three NBA All-Defensive First Team honors and two NBA All-Defensive Second Team honors. Allen was drafted by the Boston Celtics 25th overall in the 2004 NBA Draft. He would ride the bench for most of the Celtics 2008 NBA Championship run, averaging just 4.3 minutes per game in the playoffs.
In 2010, Allen would sign with the Memphis Grizzles and still plays for the team today. Surprisingly, the veteran would average a career high in minutes (27.0) and rebounds (5.5) per game. Unfortunately for the Grizzles, Allen would be injured during their playoff run this season. At 35 years old, Allen may hang up the jersey and retire after this season, but you never know with his successful longevity.
6 Mehmet Okur
The Turkish native would be involved in a huge supporting role for the Detroit Piston’s 2004 championship team. In only his second season in the NBA, Okur would back up Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace, averaging 22.3 minutes per game. His game involved being a bruiser down low and taking a long-range jumper to stretch the defense.
The Pistons would pull off a historic upset and defeat the Los Angeles Lakers in five games in 2005. Okur would leave the team after winning the championship and never reach the NBA Finals again. In 2016, Okur would be hired by the Phoenix Suns and become the first Turkish-born coach to be a member of an NBA coaching staff. He has worked exclusively with Sun’s Alex Len and Dragan Bender.
5 Mark Madsen
Ever wonder what it would be like to back up Shaquille O’Neal in the NBA? Just ask Mark Madsen. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2000 and contributed to two NBA championships in 2001 and 2002. You may look at his statics and see him as being weak, however, O’Neal has gone on record about Madsen’s work ethic. “Mad Dog” may be best known for his quirky dance moves at the 2002 Laker’s Championship celebration but he’s still an NBA champion nevertheless.
He would leave the Lakers in 2003 and finish his career with the Minnesota Timberwolves. After retiring in 2009, Madsen would coach in the NBA developmental league. Today, Madsen is an assistant coach on the Lakers but don’t expect to see his dance moves anytime soon.
4 Michael Finley
Michael Finley was drafted by the Phoenix Suns in 1995 but really blossomed as a player for the Dallas Mavericks. For the longest time, Finley would be the second scoring option behind Dirk Nowitzki for all those playoff runs. Unfortunately, he couldn’t help the Mavericks win a championship and would join the San Antonio Spurs in 2005.
The Spurs would be knocked out of the playoffs by Finley’s former team that year but one season later he would finally win a championship. Finley officially retired from the NBA in 2010 but is still involved in the league today. The sharpshooter works for the Mavericks as an Assistant Vice President in the front office. He also was a producer on two films, Lee Daniel’s The Butler and Nate Parker’s, Birth of a Nation.
3 Malik Rose
Malik Rose may never have been a great starter but his hustle, commitment and attitude towards the game earned him the respect of the locker room and the San Antonio fans. He would join the San Antonio Spurs in 1997 and be the primary backup for the legendary power forward Tim Duncan. He would earn a championship in 2003 when the Spurs defeated the New Jersey Nets. He would be traded to the New York Knicks in 2005 and retired from basketball in 2009.
Rose has stayed connected to the game since retirement. He became a pregame analyst for the Madison Square Garden Network and moved up to color commentator two years later for the Philadelphia 76ers. Today, Rose is working behind the scenes in the basketball universe, he became the General Manager of the Atlanta Hawks development team, the Erie Bayhawks.
2 Darko Miličić
Many remember Darko Milicic for being the biggest bust in the 2003 NBA draft and not for winning a championship. The Detroit Pistons passed on Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Bosh to select Milicic with the second overall pick in the draft that year. It’s amazing looking back on it now because out of all the legends in the 2003 draft, but Milicic was the first to get a championship ring.
With Chauncey Billups, Rasheed Wallace, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, and Ben Wallace hoarding most of the minutes, Milicic would average a measly 4.7 minutes on the season. The Pistons would pull off a historic upset and defeat the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals. Today, Milicic is a farmer in his native country of Serbia.
1 Antoine Walker
Before chucking up three-pointers became an offensive strategy for many NBA teams, Antoine Walker was exemplifying how to launch the long ball in the NBA. He would lead the league in three-point attempts from 2000-2003 for the Boston Celtics. After leaving the Celtics, he would join the Dallas Mavericks and then Atlanta Hawks before settling in with the Miami Heat in 2005.
That season, he would be a member of the Heat championship team that beat the Dallas Mavericks. Walker would eventually end up in the NBA development league and officially retire in 2012 from the game. Walker had a few big pay days and he made headlines in 2010 when he filed for Chapter seven bankruptcy protection in the Southern District of Florida. Today, Walker works for 120 Sports and the SEC Network as a basketball analyst.