Let's start this off by stating that any of us rec league, open gym, pick up game, gym rats would probably trade our left Spalding (Wilson, Baden, whatever your favorite ball is) to be one of the guys on this list. Potentially the right one as well.
With that being said, the following twenty current and former NBA players were obviously in the right time and the right place in order to capture what has eluded such greats as Charles Barkley, John Stockton, Karl Malone, Allen Iverson, Steve Nash, Patrick Ewing and Elgin Baylor, to name but a few. Heck, there are some greats and even Hall of Fame players who weren't even lucky enough to reach the championship round. Chances are some of those players may be willing to give up their HOF ring for one that is etched with the name CHAMPION on it.
They say that every great championship team needs to have a strong contingent of glue players. Players willing to give up minutes for the greater good. Players willing to play a role in practice more than in game. Players willing to come up with creative celebration dances and towel waves during big moments. While all this is true, the lack of on court contribution during the playoff run may leave the following players slightly embarrassed to have a NBA Championship ring.
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20 Brandon Rush
The Rush family has a lengthy basketball history, as brothers JaRon and Kareem were supposed to pave the way for the next, which to an extent they did, as the eldest never made it to the NBA, the middle child found modest success before the youngest would reach the top of the mountain.
During his career, Rush would play for four teams (including two stints in Golden State), While currently coming off the bench for the Minnesota Timberwolves, Rush was actually traded by the Warriors in a deal at the end of the 2013 season that would bring the team Andre Iguodala. One year later, the Warriors would resign Rush to back up Iggy as the team would capture their first title since 1975. If you think that 30 points in 33 regular season games is meaningless, what would that make three points in three playoff games (though to be fair he only played seven minutes)?
19 Mengke Bateer
Yao Ming, Yi Jianlian, Wang Zhizhi and Mengke Bateer. Which would you think of that list is the proud owner of a NBA championship ring? No. Nope. Nada. Bingo.
As the first Chinese born player to capture an NBA Championship (Sun Yue would win one six years later with the Lakers), Bateer would help wave farewell to The Admiral, David Robinson, during his swan song from the league. While some may think that even though Bateer would be awarded a NBA ring even though he didn't dress for a single game in the Spurs playoff run was not contributing, if you look just a little deeper and note the 46 minutes of regular season action as a prime opportunity for Robinson, Tim Duncan and Kevin Willis to get valuable rest, you'll then see the contribution number 34 made to the greater cause.
18 Bill Wennington
It's hard to hate on a fellow Canadian, but when you're the backup to a big man who should have been a backup himself rather than a starter (Luc Longley), you have to believe that the Chicago Bulls could have plugged any walking, breathing big man in the paint and still won a title (or three).
Over the course of six seasons and 367 games with the Bulls, of which Wennington would start 51, the fan favorite big man would contribute an average of 5.1 points and 2.7 assists per game. When you consider the amount of time he was on the floor and who it was with, the numbers weren't that horrible. While Bill was at least able to contribute to the Bulls first two titles, he managed to claim a third ring without even appearing in a single playoff game during the 1996-97 run.
17 Will Perdue
We all know that the Chicago Bulls were built around three individuals, Phil, Mike and Scottie, but when you break down how much, or how little in this case, the other players on the roster contributed to the title run, it really is that much more impressive.
Sure there was Horace, B.J. and to an extent Bill and John, but what did Will do? Not a heck of a lot. But yet somehow Big Will is the owner of four NBA championship rings. It's not like Perdue was competing for playing time with a future Hall Of Fame center during his time with the Bulls, but rather names like Cartwright, King and Williams. Although he would at least get off the bench during the Bulls three-peat, how much his contributions really impacted the team remain questionable. The cherry on top? A fourth ring thanks to Greg, Tim and David. Ah to ride the coattails.
16 Mark Madsen
Twenty playoff games, a combined fifty-eight minutes, five points and twelve rebounds. Welcome to the NBA Mad Dog! As the Lakers rolled through the regular season in both 2000-01 and 2001-02, Madsen found himself on the floor in a fair amount of games and while his minutes and averages were nothing to write home about, at least he was getting some love from Coach Jackson.
The playoffs were a whole different story as the former Stanford Cardinal would see a combined 58 minutes of action over the course of 31 Laker playoff games, of which the reserve forward would participate in just 20. No matter how you count it, there are few players in the league that have the ability to write back-to-back NBA Champions on their basketball resume during their first two years in the league.
15 Dahntay Jones
17 points, seven rebounds, one blocked shot, and two assists. That about sums up Jones NBA championship run. Add in a couple of stops in the NBA D-League and the journeyman Duke Blue Devil finished out his pro career as nothing more than a glorified towel waver.
Jones may have been in the right place at the right time, though it's unsure as to what the Cleveland Cavaliers front office saw in the combo guard/forward when they signed him to a short term contract in mid-April. In what would prove to be an irrelevant final game of the regular season, Jones would play thirty-eight minutes more than he would see over the course of the team's Seven Game Series and historic comeback for the title.
14 Greg Foster
During the second championship of the LA Lakers three-peat, the nine team NBA journeyman would see floor for all of three minutes during the 2000-01 playoff run. After posting single digit averages of eight minutes, two points and 1.8 rebounds, The Zen Master, Phil Jackson, would place Foster on the floor for just three minutes during the Lakers first round series sweep against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Considering that the only other options up front to back up Shaquille O'Neal for the Purple & Gold were Stanislav Medvedenko and Horace Grant, one would think that Foster could at least see a little more action. Despite the lackluster amount of playing time, he certainly had no problem whatsoever celebrating his championship victory and rightfully so!
13 Scot Pollard
He may be known to the causal NBA fan due to his time on Survivor and for the regular fan, his creative head and facial hair designs are legendary, but as far as his contributions to the 2008 NBA Champion Boston Celtics, chances are nobody really noticed.
While it wasn't his worst statistical season of his eleven year professional career, it was also far from his best. Limited to twenty-two games in the regular season, the former Kansas Jayhawk did not make the final playoff roster for the Celtics first title in over twenty years. While there are others on this list that have been left off of the playoff roster for their respective teams, it slightly more embarrassing for Pollard as he had at least made the cut for each of the other nine trips to the playoffs that he qualified for. What made it even worse was the fact that in his final season, one that would result in his team planting their flag on the mountain top, Pollard would not even dress.
12 Žan Tabak
At 24 years old, Tabak entered the NBA as a three year veteran having played overseas in Croatia and Italy before heading to Houston, the team that drafted him in the second round of the 1991 draft.
Although he was brought in to be the primary backup to Hakeem Olajuwon, Tabak would only play in 37 games, averaging a shade under five minutes a night, losing time to Otis Thorpe, Pete Chilcutt and Charles Jones. Of the Rockets 22 game playoff journey, Tabak's contributions would be even less, playing in thirty one minutes over the course of eight games and adding only six points, one assist and one offensive rebound. So much for providing The Dream a chance for a breather!
11 Justin Holiday
Coming out of the University of Washington, Justin Holiday was known more for his efforts on the defensive side of the court rather than the numbers that he added to the scoreboard. Unfortunately in the modern era of the NBA that doesn't always equal success.
Undrafted after his senior season, Holiday bounced around the globe playing in various leagues, including the NBA summer season before signing a season long contract with the Golden State Warriors. On a team that spent more time running and gunning more than it did defending, there was little use for Holiday's talents, especially when Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes, Shaun Livingston and Leonardo Barbosa were all a notch or five higher on the depth chart.
On the Warriors road to the title, Holiday dressed in five of the team's twenty one playoff games and only one game in the championship series in which he would have made Mark Titus proud, joining Club Trillion, posting only numbers in the minutes line of the box score and nothing else.
10 Shandon Anderson
As the fourth last pick in the 1996 NBA Draft by the Utah Jazz, former Georgia Bulldog, Shandon Anderson already beat the odds by not only securing himself a contract with the Jazz, but more impressively carving out a ten year career. After stints with the Jazz, Houston Rockets, and NY Knicks, Anderson would finish out his career with the Miami Heat.
Other than his two seasons in Houston, which he started all 164 games and put up modest numbers, Anderson would serve a roll with the second string. Playing limited minutes with the Heat during the 05-06 regular season, Anderson must have seen the writing on the wall as he retired at the end of the season, one in which the team would capture their first NBA Championship. Anderson would come off the bench to play in 13 of the Heat's 23 playoff games and of the six games against the Dallas Mavericks, Anderson would contribute 6 points in 31 minutes over the course of four games.
9 Earl Barron
After four years of mediocre play with the University of Memphis Tigers, the seven foot big man would end up taking the overseas and D-League route to the NBA. While he may have gone undrafted in 2003 and had to take the long route to the promise land, Barron was fortunate enough to be signed as a free agent by the Miami Heat in 2005.
As a 24 year old rookie, Barron's job was basically nothing more than a practice player for the likes of Shaquille O'Neal, Alonzo Mourning and to a lesser extent Udonis Haslem to beat up on. After seeing the court for just eight games during the regular season, Barron was not able to crack the Heat's 13 man playoff lineup, but as a result of his "contributions" during the regular season, he was honored with a championship ring.
After two more years in South Beach, Barron would continue to make various appearances throughout different NBA, NBDL and international professional leagues.
8 Brian Cardinal
The Custodian may have been a fan favorite for each of the six NBA teams he suited up for during his career, but his statistical contributions have lacked compared to what he may have provided in the locker room and as a sideline cheerleader. He was basically the dude you kept on your team as a kid cause you felt bad for him and cause he was a super cool dude, but basically sucked when it mattered. This was pretty much Brian Cardinal during the twilight of his career.
Now lets be honest here, considering that Cardinal was playing behind Caron Butler, Shawn Marion, Steve Novak, Peja Stojakovic and that Dirk guy, floor time would be very limited. The result, nine games, 37 minutes, 10 points (including 3-4 from downtown) and three rebounds. Cardinal would return to the Mavericks the following season before hanging up his kicks.
7 Scott Hastings
2.8 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 10.4 MPG, 578 games, $2.3 million and one championship ring. Oh and a partridge in a pear tree..Ok too far?
Not a bad career if you can get it. Honestly there really isn't much else to Hastings career. His best two seasons were 1983-84 with Atlanta and 1988-89 in Miami. His contributions to the Detroit Pistons Bad Boys team was minimal, making 40 regular season appearances, scoring 42 points and adding 32 rebounds.
As for his playoff numbers, 16 minutes over the course of five games with one bucket, one steal and four fouls. There are at least a few Sportster readers who can make those numbers.
6 Jack Haley
Let's face it folks, Jack Haley was a grown man babysitter. Despite claims that he was not his keeper, Haley's friendship with Dennis Rodman was one that made people question his role on the Chicago Bulls 1995-96 roster. Let's be honest, after spending two seasons with Rodman as part of the San Antonio Spurs, why else would the Bulls sign the 6'10" journeyman? It's not like the Bulls, who drafted Haley in 1988 out of UCLA, all of a sudden said, oh my, we need to get that guy who averaged only a couple of points and a couple of boards back to help Mike and Scottie get their fourth ring!
Haley would spend 99% of the season on the bench until the final game of the regular season before making a seven minute appearance. As for the playoffs, even the Bulls need a towel waver on their bench!
5 Brian Scalabrine
The White Mamba spent nearly all of his eleven year NBA career coming off of the bench for three NBA teams, only two seasons of which did Scalabrine start more than ten games. After signing a five year contract with the Boston Celtics to say that Veal Scalabrine helped the team to a championship would be a stretch. Appearing in only 49 regular season games during the 2007-08 season, the 6'9" forward posted averages of 1.8 PPG, 1.6 RPG and shot only 30.9% from the field.
As for his playoff stats, let's go with a big fat ZERO. That's right folks, Scalabrine received a ring without appearing in any of the Celtics 26 playoff games as he was left off of the twelve man playoff roster.
4 Eddy Curry
Drafted in 2001, Eddy Curry was visioned to be part of the Baby Bulls duo with Tyson Chandler that would return the team to the promise land. While it would take a few years for his numbers to improve to the point in which he was a viable threat, there was still promise in what Curry's talents could bring to an NBA team.
Health problems would soon take over Curry's career, but in 2006-07 it appeared as though the big man had his life back on track. Sadly it was just a blip (or soon a blimp) on the radar as weight issues would become an ongoing story during his time with the NY Knicks. After being sent to Minnesota as part of a three way trade with the Denver Nuggets, Curry found himself out of the league completely.
Fortunately for Curry there is an old adage in the world of basketball that, you can't teach height, as the Miami Heat decided to offer Curry a one year deal as part of their 2011-12 championship team. His contributions to that star-studded roster, 14 regular season games, 30 points, 12 boards and a courtside seat during their playoff run. One year and two games later for the Dallas Mavericks, Curry would find himself out of the league and in a heap of legal trouble.
3 Didier Ilunga-Mbenga
His full name is Didier Ilunga-Mbenga, but fans in LA know him as DJ. While his spot on this list is due to his lack of statistical contributions during his NBA career, the odds that Mbenga had to over come off the court are nothing short of impressive.
After finding refugee status in Belgium, Mbenga would suit up for three different teams in the Belgian Basketball League before heading over to the NBA. Following three seasons in Dallas and a cup of coffee in Golden State, the Lakers would extend a pair of ten day contracts before offering a two year commitment. As the Lakers continued to build a championship roster around Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, Mbenga would become a fan favorite based on his blue collar play. As a result of his efforts, Mbenga would make the Lakers playoff roster, despite averaging only single digit minutes during the regular season and near irrelevant statistical contributions. Other than bench support, the only thing that Mbenga provided the Lakers during their back-to-back championship run was ten games, 28 minutes, seven points and eight rebounds.
2 Adam Morrison
As the third overall pick in a horrible 2006 Draft, Adam Morrison came into the league as the NCAA College Player Of The Year and was thought to be primed for a solid NBA career.
Such was not the case, as after two failed years with the Charlotte Bobcats, Morrison would wind up being traded. Fortunately for the former Gonzaga Bulldog, the trade destination was the LA Lakers, a team coming off of a championship and heavily favored to capture a second title. Morrison's contribution to Kobe's fifth ring? Eight points, five rebounds, one assist and 13 minutes in two appearances over the span of 23 playoff games. Not really numbers that are fitting for someone who had the collegiate career and pedigree that Morrison did.
1 Darko Milicic
Out of the top five picks in the historic 2003 NBA Draft, who would have thought that the second overall pick would have been the first to capture a NBA ring? Now, all things considered, Milicic had the good fortune of being drafted to a well developed team, something that the other four picks did not (thanks to the Vancouver Grizzlies!).
If you thought Darko hardly got off the bench during the regular season, in which he averaged less than five minutes of floor time in 34 appearances, his playoff burn was near immeasurable. During the Pistons 2004 championship run, The Human Victory Cigar hardly got off the pine, seeing only fourteen minutes of action in eight playoff games. His contribution to the banner...one point (1-4 free throws), three rebounds, one assist, one steal, and one block.
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