Last Sunday, Michael Jordan celebrated his 50th birthday and caused a little controversy in the basketball world when he said that he would pick Kobe Bryant over LeBron James. The reason, according to Jordan is that Kobe has five NBA championship rings compared to James’ one title. If you base MJ’s reasoning on rings alone, nobody can compare with Bill Russell’s 11 titles. I do not agree with judging an athlete’s greatness by championships won. It also made me compile a list of the 5 greatest NBA players to have never won a title.

1. Elgin Baylor – played 13 seasons with the Lakers and he can thank the Boston Celtics for never winning an NBA title. Averaged 27.4 points per game and made the All-NBA First Team 11 consecutive seasons. Ironically, Baylor retired in 1972, the same season the Lakers finally won an NBA title.

 

Mandatory Credit: Brian Bahr /Allsport

 

2. Karl Malone/John Stockton – 2A and 2B. Both came close with Utah, but ran into Jordan’s Bulls. Unlike Stockton who retired in 2003, Malone joined the Lakers at the end of career. The Mailman and the rest of the star-studded Lakers team lost in his third NBA Finals series to Detroit in 2004.

3. Charles Barkley couldn’t win in Philadelphia, Phoenix, or Houston. Barkley was an 11-time All Star, a two-time Olympic gold medal winner, the 1993 NBA MVP, and star of TNT’s NBA coverage. All of that does not replace the Larry O’Brien trophy.

4. George Gervin The “Iceman” played in the ABA and NBA with the Spurs and won four scoring titles. The master of the rain-maker finger roll joined a rookie Michael Jordan late in his NBA career, but it was about seven years too soon. Gervin did make three NBA Conference Finals.

 

(Photo By Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

5. Pete Maravich the All-Time NCAA scoring leader never played on great teams (Hawks and Jazz) in his 10-yr career. His signature playground moves and sweet no-look passes made him a legend on the court.