I was watching basketball DVD's with a friend the other night when the Bulls v Knicks series from the mid nineties came on. I mentioned to my friend that I felt Patrick Ewing was the greatest center of the last twenty year and it was a shame he never won a ring. As the conversation turned to the present times a uneasy feeling dawned on me. Derrick Rose may never win a title either. Long suffering Bulls fans such as myself will understand my sorrow at such a scenario, however it is extremely possible. One thing led to another and our conversation led to who would rank as the five greatest players of the last 20 years to not win a ring?
So here they are, in no particular order of preference. I have chosen one player per position, so it's almost like the perfect starting 5 to never win a championship.
PF – Charles Barkley – Sir Charles was a rare breed of player with the bulk of a power forward, and the height of a point guard. Chuck could out rebound seven footers, dribble the length of the court on the break, and finish with a dunk so powerful the backboard would still be swaying by the time he got back on D. That's nasty! Despite his incredible skill and some great team mates, a ring somehow eluded Charles. In Philadelphia he had a washed up Dr. J, in Phoenix he had KJ and Thunder Dan as teammates but also had Michael Jordan spoiling his party and in Houston he had serious back problems and let's face it, Houston's run was over by then.
C – Patrick Ewing – Drafted by the Knicks and played the majority of his career with the Knicks, you have to feel sorry for him straight away. I'm just kidding Knicks fans. Ewing like so many of the others on this list, had the unfortunate pleasure of playing at the same time as Michael Jordan. The problem for Patrick- like many in the Eastern Conference – is that for his Knicks to ever get a shot at winning it all, they had to beat Jordan and his Bulls. Ewing could shoot the jumper, block shots, wrestle for rebounds and when he dunked on you it was lights out! I consider Patrick Ewing the greatest center of the last 20 years, and definitely the one guy that even though I hated seeing my Bulls play him I always loved his game.
PG – Allen Iverson – I'm sure this will be a controversial selection as many people don't believe that AI deserves to win a ring, despite his incredible skills. Iverson was one of the first of what many call the “hip hop generation” of NBA player. He wore cornrows, he had tattoos covering his arms and he seemed to have an air of arrogance about him. Iverson had a long, relatively successful career in Philadelphia before bouncing from Philly to Denver, traded to Detroit where things went sour before an ill fated brief tenure in Memphis which ended up in his retiring only to come back for the 76ers before leaving the team for 'personal reasons'. At press time, A.I. is yet to find a home in the NBA this year and it is growing ever more likely this proud warrior is going to finish out his days in Turkey.
SF – Dominique Wilkins – “The Human Highlight Film” is still considered one of the most underrated players in NBA history. Not only did he never win a ring, he was also not included as one of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players of all time. 'Nique was a nine time NBA All Star, and a FIBA World Championship gold medal winner in 1994. Wilkins is mostly remembered for his super acrobatic dunks, and Michael Jordan's competitor in what most people still consider the greatest dunk competition of all time. While he was finally recognised in 2006 and entered in to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, most basketball fans still feel bad that Dominique never got his hands on the Larry O'Brien trophy.
SG – Reggie Miller – I saved the most villainous and controversial player for the end. Widely considered as the man that mastered the art of shooting off screens, and perhaps the deadliest three-point shooter in the clutch. Miller grew up in his older sister Cheryl's shadow and was always baited as never having been able to match her achievements, so it was only right that he played like he had a chip on his shoulder and something to prove. Famous for his hand-in-the-face defence and unbelievable 8 points in 8.9 seconds against the Knicks, Miller established himself as the guy everyone loved to hate. Miller was also a gold medallist at the 1994 and 2002 FIBA World Championships and the 1996 Olympic Games.His push off on Jordan which ensued in game winning shot is something that I'll never forget. I hated Reggie Miller.
What are you thoughts? Did I leave anyone out? Who doesn't belong in the starting 5?