The concept of chasing rings in the NBA is not a new one, it just appears to have transitioned to a younger age in the modern game. Nowadays we see guys like Kevin Durant leaving their longtime teams during the prime of their career. Something like that happening in a different era would likely be considered lunacy.
Even throughout this most recent free agency period, arguments can absolutely be made that CP3 to Houston, and Paul George to OKC was all motivated by the opportunity of potentially winning a championship. Those All-Stars didn't feel comfortable with their chances in their previous locations, so they packed up and wanted out. It seems like such a simple concept when we think about what people with normal jobs would do in these NBA player's situations.
It seems like such a simple concept when we think about what people with normal jobs would do in these NBA player's situations. People take opportunities for better jobs all the time, but when these NBA players do it, they are often condemned and blasted by not only the outreach of that player's former fan base but also the media as a whole.
Perhaps the biggest criticism that can occur out of these situations, is the players who attempt to chase a ring in their career by leaving their team and end up failing regardless. It's still tough to judge these players based on their often loyal service to one franchise for so long, but at the end of the day, people frequently forget how much they once did once they leave.
Today, TheSportster brings you 15 NBA Players Who Chased A Ring And STILL Failed To Win One.
15 Steve Nash
The 50-40-90 master appears first on our list of ring chasers, though Steve Nash's commitment of 10 years to the Suns makes it very difficult to fault him for his eventual decision to chase a title. Prior to that particular decision, Nash had established himself as one of the great point guards not only of the 2000s but perhaps of all-time. His shooting ability was regarded as one of the best the league had ever seen, and his efficiency was miles ahead of even future hall of fame players like Jason Kidd. In terms of a passer, he was maybe the best the league had seen since Magic and helped lead his team ever so close to the NBA Finals.
Nash gave in to the inevitable conclusion that he couldn't surpass the Spurs or Lakers in Phoenix, so he joined one of them. Despite joining a Lakers team that won a championship two years earlier, and was star-studded with talent (including Kobe, Dwight Howard, and Pau Gasol), the Lakers never found their footing, and Nash failed to win even a single playoff game in a purple and gold top.
14 Tracy McGrady
Tracy McGrady, a recently inducted Hall of Fame player, once had the ability to go toe-to-toe with a prime Kobe Bryant. The only issue was, Kobe often had a better team surrounding him. McGrady's career bounced around from Toronto to Orlando to Houston and to a somewhat wacky ending. Many argue that McGrady's health was his ultimate downfall in pursuit of a title, and one does have to wonder if his 2008-09 Rockets (arguably the best team McGrady started on in terms of playoff success) would have taken home a championship if McGrady played in their second round loss vs the eventual champions, the Los Angeles Lakers.
Either way, McGrady's quest for a ring was over in Houston, as he spun around the league through New York, Detroit, and Atlanta before heading to a perennial contender: the San Antonio Spurs. Fortunately for McGrady, the Spurs were headed to the Finals the year he joined, and even as a benchwarmer he was given the opportunity to finally win the ring he desired for so long. Ray Allen and the Heat washed away those hopes in Game 6 of the 2013 Finals, as Miami would go on to beat the Spurs in seven, and send McGrady into retirement.
13 Penny Hardaway
The four-time All-Star out of Memphis State enjoyed a three year stretch in Orlando that featured some excellent basketball out of such a young team. The dynamic duo that formed between Penny Hardaway and Shaquille O'Neal seemed bound to win a title after losing in The 1995 Finals, but it never materialized. Shaq ended up parting ways with the Magic after being drawn away by former Hall of Famer Jerry West, and Hardaway just couldn't lead the Magic without the big man helping him out.
Hardaway's career really took a turn for the worst when he began to deal with nagging injuries that prevented him from utilizing the athleticism he was so noted for. After stops in Phoenix and New York, Penny's desire to for a championship became apparent with his move to the Miami Heat; a team that had won a title just two years back. Also, a reunion with his former big man teammate was in order, and with Dwyane Wade rising as one of the best players in the league, Penny's chance to win a title became a possibility. A possibility, but not a reality in the end, as Penny only played 16 games with the Heat, in a season that proved horrific for the recent NBA champions.
12 Anderson Varejao
Anderson Varejao makes this list for being involved in perhaps the most ironic situation a player could ask for. After dedicating 11 years of his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers, which included a run at the NBA Finals in 2007, Varejao moved on to the rising Golden State Warriors. Any other year may have been fortuitous for Varejao's championship acquisition efforts, but they proved futile in 2015, as Golden State blew a historically unbroken Finals record 3-1 lead to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Varejao even resigned with the Warriors in the offseason of their Finals loss, but it wasn't meant to be for Varejao, as he was eventually cut, just months before the Warriors handled the Cavaliers in five games for their second championship in three seasons. Despite the unfortunate ending to the Brazilian's title ambitions, he was fortunate enough to play with both LeBron James and Stephen Curry(arguably in their scoring prime, I might add).
11 Artis Gilmore
The A-Train's 7'2" stature and basketball dominance maybe came at too early a time for him to be destined to win an NBA title. As a player in the ABA, Gilmore spent five seasons with the Kentucky Colonels, winning both a title and MVP trophy during his time. As basketball gradually transitioned to the NBA, along with Gilmore, his placement with a Chicago Bulls franchise that struggled to put together a complete unit doomed his chances of team success in the NBA.
As the surefire hall of fame center was reaching the conclusion of his illustrious career, his eyes appeared to be on a championship ring. Gilmore decided to join the recent NBA champion Boston Celtics for a chance at NBA glory, but entered a couple years too late, as the Celtics core had broken down. Regardless of his failure at acquiring a ring, Gilmore is the only player on this list to have at least won a title in the ABA.
10 Chris Webber
The Sacramento Kings and Chris Webber seemed to be a rising perennial title contender following the controversial Game 7 Conference Finals loss during the 2002 playoffs, but as the trend has been thus far on this list, Webber just couldn't ever make it over the hump. The former Fab Five Michigan man had emerged as a top power forward in the league just as the Kings became good, but the difficulty of maintaining a core to beat the Western Conference competition proved too much for Sacramento.
As a result, Webber eventually found his way to a contender in the East; his hometown Detroit Pistons. The Pistons had been close to, if not the top dog in the East for the past couple of seasons, so that mixed with Webber's Detroit affiliation proved to be a great landing spot for his possible only championship ring. Unfortunately, a man named LeBron James had other plans in mind, as he beat Webber and the Pistons in the 2007 playoffs, beating the Pistons four games to two en route to a Finals berth vs. the Spurs.
9 Mike Bibby
Despite never being an All-Star caliber player, Mike Bibby made his mark on the NBA as an efficient shooter. Shooting at least 43% from the field during his first eight NBA seasons, Bibby proved his proficiency in scoring the basketball, and his impact when playing with good players. That impact was felt most in Sacramento when he joined Chris Webber, Vlade Divac, and Peja Stojakovic.
The run that Sacramento had at a title was strong but never quite enough, as the Kings could never reach the Finals during Bibby's time there. As he continued his career in the league, Bibby reached his breaking point in realizing he needed to land with a contender if he ever wanted to win a championship. Enter the Miami Heat, who needed a point guard and would welcome Bibby's services. To Bibby's joy and dismay, he helped be a part of the Heat's run to his first ever Finals, only to lose to the Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks.
8 Antawn Jamison
Given Jamison's great scoring numbers during his time in the decade of the 2000s, it's somewhat surprising he isn't talked about more. With nine seasons of at least 19.6 points per game under his belt, Jamison never quite molded into a team that was a contender. Early in his career he started with a poor rebuilding Warriors team, was traded to Dallas, Washington, and then Cleveland, only to leave himself in what must have been a frustrating situation.
In all honesty, Jamison's pursuit of a ring was well deserved after playing with so many non-contenders during his career. Sure, he was able to play with LeBron James for one season, but it wasn't a full season, and LeBron leaving for Miami ensured Cleveland's inevitable downfall. Jamison decided to join the talented Los Angeles Lakers squad in 2013, but the fact that most of their best players were entering their mid to late thirties ultimately proved to not be capable of a legitimate shot at an NBA championship.
7 Charles Barkley
Charles Barkley may sometimes get overlooked when we discuss the greatest players that ever played the game, and it's mostly because of a team accomplishment he lacks. Like the rest of the players on this list, being ringless had a similar derogatory effect on Barkley, but his perennial All-Star play and MVP status elevated his teams to contend for a title. Despite his talents and most well-rounded team in Phoenix, he couldn't(like so many others) beat out Jordan and the Bulls for just one title back in 1993.
Barkley's timing as a player in the league didn't do him any favors. He was drafted by a 76ers team that just won a title, but their best players were now out of their prime or out of Philly. Then, when he looked for his last attempt to win a ring before he ended his career, he joined an aging Rockets team that still played in a tough Western Conference including the Seattle Supersonics and Utah Jazz. Barkley just couldn't ever quite land in the ideal spot to win a title, but chasing a ring in Houston allowed him to at least play with two Hall of Fame teammates prior to retiring.
6 Derrick Coleman
Through his first five seasons in the league, Derrick Coleman literally averaged 20 points a game and 10(.5) rebounds a game. Early on, Coleman's status as a power forward was gradually rising, but team success didn't follow. Ultimately that is what makes or breaks these players in so many discussions; did they win a title or not? Coleman's early New Jersey teams made the playoffs on three separate occasions....but all of them ended in Round 1.
Coleman really deserved to have been put into a better situation than New Jersey, so it's fair that he eventually landed with two Eastern conference teams a year after they had won their title: Philadelphia and Detroit. During his time in Philadelphia, there really just wasn't enough firepower for Allen Iverson to have the playoff run he had back in the 2000-2001 season, so a title opportunity never presented itself. In Detroit, the Pistons actually ended up making it back to the Finals the year Coleman played with them....except Coleman ended up getting cut prior to that Finals match up.
5 Kevin Martin
If I told you that a shooting guard/ point guard would average at least 20 points a game seven times in his career, and also shot 43% from the field for his career, it would be relatively logical to assume that player made an All-Star game. Unfortunately for Kevin Martin, this simply isn't the case. Martin's presence as a scorer for both the Kings and the Rockets during the bulk of his career builds a solid case as one of the more underrated scorers in his era.
His scoring ability really never played a role in the playoffs though, as he lost in the first round at age 22 with the Kings, lost in OKC as a bench player in the second round, and only ever desired to play with a contender for a chance at a title. His ring chase arguably began in OKC, but when he joined the San Antonio Spurs in 2015, surely he was primed to make the Finals. The Spurs made the Finals the last two years, so no reason they couldn't at least make it to the Conference Finals right? Wrong. Martin only played in five of the Spurs 10 total playoff games, and despite their 67-15 regular season finish, the Spurs were knocked out in six games by the OKC Thunder. Martin would never play in another NBA season.
4 Jermaine O'Neal
As the main man for the Indiana Pacers, Jermaine O'Neal enjoyed All-Star success over six of his eight years there. He was a 20 and 10 guy with a solid mid-range game and rim protecting ability that rivaled anyone in the league. Given that, it's no surprise he was able to lead the Pacers to the best record in the league in the 2004 season, only to lose in the Eastern Conference Finals 4-2 to the eventual NBA champions, the Detroit Pistons.
O'Neal would move on from Indiana to multiple teams but found it fitting to join the Boston Celtics entering the 2011 season, seeing as how the Celtics were coming off of two Finals appearances over the course of the last three years. Despite that success, Boston never made it back to the Finals, and O'Neal eventually was no longer a part of Boston's plans. His last ditch effort to claim a title was in Golden State, where he played 44 games in the 2014 season but did not have a desire to play in the 2015 season. Oh, the irony, how close O'Neal was to that title with Golden State.
3 Terry Porter
What most die hard NBA fans remember of the 1990s was the dominance of the Chicago Bulls in winning six NBA championships. While that certainly was the case, Portland seemed like they would break through the Finals barrier at some point. Terry Porter and Clyde Drexler led the way for the 1990s Trailblazers, and going to two NBA Finals in three seasons and still failing to win one was demoralizing for both leaders.
Porter and Drexler would move on from Portland in order to find a title elsewhere. Drexler found that title in Houston, with Olajuwon and co. Porter, on the other hand, looked to San Antonio, who under the leadership of David Robinson and Tim Duncan looked poised to embark on a string of title runs. All Porter needed to do was act as a serviceable starter when needed. Unfortunately, San Antonio hit a bump in the road with the Shaq and Kobe run of championships, and before they began to hit their rhythm again, Porter would retire.
2 Rolando Blackman
When people mention the Dallas Mavericks, the first name that comes up is Dirk Nowitzki. 30 years ago, it was Rolando Blackman. Blackman was a four-time All-Star during his time in Dallas and was known for his ultra efficient scoring ability. Shooting at least 50% from the field in four of his first five years was no mistake, and he helped build Dallas into a contender. The best team based year Blackman had was 1988, where the Mavericks turned a 53 win season into a game away from the NBA Finals. Of course, they couldn't capitalize on the opportunity, as it seemed destined that the 1980s be dominated by the Lakers.
Despite great years in Dallas, that burning desire for a championship reigned true, as Blackman looked for a possible title with New York. However, Michael Jordan had yet to announce his first retirement, and Blackman's most promising opportunity at a championship was squandered by the dynasty of the '90s.
1 Karl Malone
Karl Malone may go down as not only the greatest player to never win an NBA championship but also one of the greatest players the NBA has ever seen, period. His run with the Utah Jazz from 1985 to 2003 was one of repetitive playoff appearances, followed by repetitive playoff heartbreak. Two consecutive Finals losses to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls seemed to end all hope for Malone to bring a title to his name. In Utah, that was all but certain, but the Los Angeles Lakers calling his name gave the big man one final chance to win a ring.
When Malone arrived in LA, the Lakers had already established themselves as champions, winning three consecutive championships from 2000-2002. Malone's longevity, however, actually proved to be an integral part of the Lakers chances to win their 4th title in such a short span. He averaged 32.7 minutes per game in the 42 regular season games he played and averaged 38 minutes per game in their playoff run all the way to the Finals. Alas, Malone still couldn't get the job done in LA, as the Lakers fell to the Pistons in five games.
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