There have been several NBA legends that have amazed us with their talent and athletic ability. Those players put up big numbers and often showed up when it mattered in games.
That being said, not all players win championships. Only one team wins a championship each year. All 30 teams are competing with each other to win that championship. For that reason, it is one of the most difficult accomplishments to achieve.
There are players that are recognized as some of the greatest of all time despite never having won a championship in their NBA careers. These are the five best players who never won an NBA championship.
Steve Nash was one of the greatest point guards of all-time. In his prime, he was a terrific passer and a great leader. Nash won two MVPs during his career.
Nash helped lead the Phoenix Suns to some of the best records in the West. Unfortunately, it did not always translate into the playoffs. Steve Nash never won a championship.
Nash is now the coach of the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets are currently in a tough situation, with both of their superstars on the trade market, but few viable trade options. If the Nets keep their players, they might actually be in a good position to win the championship next season. Nash winning a championship as a coach wouldn’t be the same, but it would still further strengthen his legacy.
Nicknamed “The Answer,” Allen Iverson kept hope alive in Philadelphia. He became one of the greatest guards of all-time and left it all on the basketball court. Iverson made one NBA Finals appearance during his NBA career.
Unfortunately for him, his opponent was the Los Angeles Lakers. Led by Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, the Lakers team was one of the greatest teams of all time. Compared to the Lakers, Iverson’s team did not stand a chance. He displayed an elite performance in Game 1, but ended up losing the series.
“The Beard” has had several opportunities to win a championship during his career, but he always came up just short of his goal. His best chances probably came in 2012, when James Harden reached the NBA Finals, and 2018, when his Rockets team lost to the Golden State Warriors.
In 2012, Harden was paired up with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. All three players would become MVPs at some point in their career. However, they were just a little too young to win it all at this point, especially going up against LeBron James and the Miami Heat Big 3. To compensate for the salary cap, the Thunder needed to break up the trio, ultimately trading Harden to the Rockets.
In 2018, James Harden was the MVP of the league and helped lead the Rockets to a Game 7 in the Western Conference Finals. Unfortunately, they were going up against the Golden State Warriors, who had added Kevin Durant to a 73 win team starring Stephen Curry. Still, the Rockets had a chance to beat that team. However, an injury to Chris Paul and an ugly shooting night from the Rockets led to a missed opportunity for Harden to go back to the Finals.
Karl Malone was unfortunate enough to be playing in his peak years at the same time as Michael Jordan. Malone led the Jazz to the Finals in back-to-back seasons, only to be defeated by Jordan and the Bulls both years.
The Jazz were particularly unlucky in 1998. The team had the lead late in Game 6, but Jordan stole the ball from Malone and hit one of the most clutch shots of all-time to seal the championship for his team.
In 2004, Malone had a shot at winning another championship, only this time, he was a role player as a member of the Lakers. Unfortunately, the team was upset by one of the most shocking outcomes in NBA history. The physical and defensive-minded Detroit Pistons had their way with the Lakers, defeating them in five games.
He was one of the greatest power forwards of all-time, but Charles Barkely was also unfortunate to be playing in the same era as Michael Jordan. Chuck was forced to go up against one of the all-time greats, which left him short of an NBA title during his career.
Barkley carried his Phoenix Suns to the NBA Finals in 1993. He put up a good fight with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, but he ultimately came up short of a championship. The Suns lost in six games.
Near the end of his career, Barkley tried to join forces with other stars to try and win a championship before he retired. Charles Barkley joined the Houston Rockets, a team that featured Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. However, the team never reached the NBA Finals during those years.