Dirk Nowitzki‘s scalding destruction of the Thunder last night was one of the best shooting performances in NBA history. It was so good, Dirk had people suddenly vaulting him into the discussion with the best players ever. While Nowitzki will ultimately be considered one of the 20 best players in the game’s history, he needs a capper. He needs that ring. That way when he walks into a room, Barkley and Malone and Reggie all have to shut up. Amazing right?
Does he get it this year? It might be the last time he ever gets this close as the general of a team. For now, not including Dirk, here are the 10 best players ever who have no jewelry to show for their overall awesomeness.
Besides Dirk, I left some players out who ran all over the ABA (Artis Gilmore) for much of their career, guys who are still active and young (LeBron James) and even one player who is slightly overrated (Reggie Miller).
If he never wins a ring, where would Dirk fall on this list?
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10. Adrian Dantley
No one had worse luck than Dantley. He basically got screwed out of two championships (leaving both teams just before they won it all), one with the Pistons and one early in his career with the Lakers. He also missed out on another title with Detroit by one game in 1988. True, some of it was his fault. He wasn’t the easiest guy to play with. But he twice led the league in scoring at over 30 a game, was a six-time All-Star, won the Rookie of the Year and put up some wild postseason lines (like the 32, eight and four he averaged in 1984). If you want to talk career numbers, check these out: 24.3 ppg, 54 percent from the field, 82 percent from the line. Machine.
9. Alex English
English had a run in 1985 with Denver to the Western Conference Finals. They couldn’t beat the Lakers that year, but it wasn’t English’s fault. The dude went for over 30 points and nearly seven rebounds and five assists a game during that 15-game sprint. In a career that spanned eight All-Star games and three years on the All-NBA Second Team, English never got any closer to winning it all.
8. George Gervin
One of the game’s all-time great players to never play in a NBA Finals. Gervin averaged 27 a night for his playoff career, and had a few playoff seasons where he dropped well over 30 points a game. The Ice Man lost two straight years in the conference finals to the Lakers during the early 1980’s, and was one game away from the Finals in 1979, before losing on the road in Washington by just two.
7. Dominique Wilkins
In the 1980’s, ‘Nique and Atlanta weren’t friends with the playoffs. They were solid, and Wilkins was perhaps the third-best offensive player in that decade. But the teams they had were stuck in neutral, first-round fodder nearly every season. Historically, Wilkins had one of the worst postseason careers ever if judging by wins. He won just three playoff series for his entire career. But, ‘Nique gets extra points for his second round Game 7 duel with Larry Bird in 1988 (the closest he ever came to a title).
6. Patrick Ewing
Ewing probably still watches old MJ tapes, weeping when they show the baseline dunk, shaking his head when he sees the blown 2-0 series lead and balling when he realizes the terrible timing he had. Ewing had a run in the 1990’s with nine consecutive seasons averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds. Every year was going to be the year New York finally won it all. It never happened. A big man who could shoot, finish inside and set records for most amount of perspiration created? It still doesn’t make any sense how they never won.