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.
20 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.
19 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.
18 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).
17 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.
16 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.
15 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.
14 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.
13 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.
12 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.
11 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.
10 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.
9 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.
8 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.
7 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.
6 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!
5 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.
4 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.
3 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.
2 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.
1 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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