If you’re an NBA player and have to choose only one, would you rather be a Hall of Famer or a champion? That’s a difficult question because not every champion is good enough to be a Hall of Famer, and not every Hall of Famer is an NBA champion. Regarding the last thought, have you ever asked who are the NBA Hall of Famers without rings? Some of them are legitimately the who’s who of the league at some point, so you don’t want to miss this.
How is a Player Inducted Into the NBA Hall of Fame?
Technically, the NBA has no Hall of Fame. The one in Springfield is called the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, so the people inducted there are not just from the NBA. Besides a player, a referee, coach, team, or anyone who has contributed significantly to the sport may be inducted.
To qualify for the Hall of Fame, these are the criteria:
- If somebody has a nominee in mind, he must pass it to the President and CEO of the Basketball Hall of Fame before October 31. All candidates who have submitted completed nomination paperwork are included on the official ballot and given to the relevant Committee for assessment.
- Generally, a player may be considered in the fifth year of his/her retirement.
- An active or retired coach may be induced into the Basketball Hall of Fame. He must be retired for four whole years, and if he’s still active (Gregg Popovich comes to mind), he must be coaching for at least 25 years.
- A referee enshrined in the Hall of Fame has the same requirements as a coach– retired for four years or, if still active, must be a referee for at least 25 years.
- A person who is not a coach, referee, or player may be enshrined because of a “significant contribution” to basketball. However, it is up to the HOF, the Hall’s Election Process Committee, and Contributor Direct-Elect Committee to screen them.
15 NBA Hall of Famers Without Rings
As previously mentioned, not every great player is a champion, and not every champion is a great player. Great players are often considered to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame, especially if they have the accolades to back their case up. Role players on a championship team are not usually handed that privilege.
Without any more delay, here are the 15 NBA Hall of Famers without championship rings.
1. Elgin Baylor
Baylor was the mold in which players like Julius Erving and other aerial artists were modeled. He was only 6-foot-5, but he could take on the giants in the paint, either in scoring or rebounding battles. However, he fell short seven times in the Finals, six times to Bill Russell’s Celtics, and once to the New York Knicks. The Lakers won it all in 1972, but Baylor retired nine games into the season.
2. Lenny Wilkens
One of a handful of NBA players in the Hall as a coach and player, Lenny Wilkens was a nine-time All-Star and one of the best point guards in the 1960s. Still, he didn’t win a championship at all, many thanks to the great Celtics teams in his era. Despite some solid numbers, he bowed out against Boston in the 1961 and 1964 NBA Finals. Fortunately, he won one as a coach with the Seattle Supersonics in 1979.
The Point Guard Greats
3. Tim Hardaway
The godfather of the crossover move, Tim Hardaway, was an explosive point guard with five All-Star selections and five All-NBA nods. Hardaway is one-third of the “Run TMC” in Golden State, a precursor to many modern run and gun teams. He was also a member of the gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic Basketball team in 2000. Nevertheless, the farthest he got was the Eastern Conference Finals in 1997. The rest of his playoff appearances weren’t even close.
4. John Stockton
Stockton is the all-time leader in assists and steals and probably the best pure point guard in league history. He was a clutch shooter and rarely turned the ball over for someone who handled the ball so much. Stockton and his running mate Karl Malone led the Utah Jazz to five Conference Finals appearances and two trips to the NBA Finals. Unfortunately, he met Michael Jordan twice in the battle for the Larry O’Brien trophy and went home a loser each time.
AI was a trendsetter, a cultural icon, and one hell of a basketball player. He just was never a champion, losing to the mighty Los Angeles Lakers, 4-1, in the 2001 NBA Finals. That was his only shot at the Larry O’Brien trophy, and he fell awfully short.
6. Pete Maravich
“Pistol” Pete was probably the NBA’s first elite showman. His game was built on razzle-dazzle, with excellent marksmanship to boot. It felt like he did those things because he was bored and basketball was too easy for him. Maravich’s style was fun but never resulted in a championship in his 11-season career. The closes he got was with Boston in 1980; however, the Celtics lost to the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Power Forwards and Centers
7. Karl Malone
One half of the legendary Jazz duo, “The Mailman” never delivered a championship to Utah. As mentioned, the Jazz fell to the Bulls twice in 1996 and 1997, and Malone also lost in the Finals to Detroit as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers in 2004. However, there was no denying his long-standing greatness. He is the third leading scorer in NBA history behind LeBron James and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and made 14 All-NBA teams along the way.
8. Charles Barkley
Barkley was a ridiculous offensive force and arguably had a better peak than Malone. He averaged a double-double in his career and did it in every season except his first. Sir Charles was just as ferocious a scorer as he was a rebounder, plucking nearly 15 rebounds a game by his third season and scoring 28.3 points in his fourth year.
Like many other 90s superstars, though, Barkley failed to win the championship in 1993, as Phoenix lost to Chicago in six games in the Finals. But make no mistake about it, Chuck was not only one of the best players without a ring; he is one of the best to ever play basketball, period.
9. Chris Webber
Webber was a power forward ahead of his time. He can be an offensive hub because of his passing skills while being an elite scorer. C-Webb averaged 20.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.4 blocks through 831 career games. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get past the Conference Finals twice and ended up retiring without a ring.
Patrick Ewing was a force to be reckoned with in his prime, making seven All-NBA teams and named an All-Star 11 times. Unfortunately for him, a guy named Michael Jordan existed, whose teams eliminated Ewing and the Knicks five times in the playoffs. When Jordan retired in 1995, Ewing met on a collision course with Hakeem Olajuwon and lost. He again fell short in the Finals in 1999 to the Spurs, although he never got to play in the series because of an injury.
11. Yao Ming
Yao, unfortunately, ended up with a short career because of a bunch of foot and knee issues. He was a towering presence down low, a great scorer, and an elite rim protector. It also helped that he’s 7-foot-6! Although he teamed up with Tracy McGrady in Houston, Yao never got out of the second round in four playoff appearances.
Shooting Guards and Small Forwards
12. George Gervin
Gervin was a phenomenal scorer who had two seasons averaging over 32 points a game. He was named to the All-NBA first team twice and an NBA All-Star nine times. He was nicknamed “Iceman” because of his cool demeanor and style on the basketball court. He wasn’t really known as a playoff performer, never advancing to the NBA Finals and losing his only Conference Finals appearance in 1979.
13. Reggie Miller
If there was one team who gave Jordan’s Bulls the most problems, it’s the Pacers teams with Reggie Miller. Miller was a constant off-ball threat, a cold-blooded shooter, and a competitive fire that never extinguished. He made six Conference Finals in his career, resulting in an NBA Finals appearance in 2000. Miller and the Pacers took the Kobe-Shaq Lakers to six games before ultimately losing.
15. Dominique Wilkins
One of the greatest dunkers of all time, ‘Nique was an athletic freak who could jump out of the gym. He was an NBA scoring champion, won the Slam Dunk contest two times, and was a seven-time All-NBA team member. Despite his scoring and athletic prowess, the farthest he got was the Conference Semifinals in 1988.
15. Dikembe Mutombo
Mt. Mutombo was one of only two people who won four Defensive Player of the Year awards. He is second behind Hakeem Olajuwon in blocks all-time and 20th in rebounds. He played 19 seasons in the NBA but only got to the NBA Finals once, losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2001.
Wrapping Things Up: Who are the NBA Hall of Famers Without Rings?
Individual greatness and team accomplishments do not always go hand-in-hand. Some of the best to ever play, even Hall of Famers, have fallen short of the ultimate goal. How many NBA Hall of Famers don’t have a ring? There are actually hundreds, and 15 of them are listed in this article.
Who are the NBA Hall of Famers without rings? John Stockton, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Elgin Baylor, and Allen Iverson are among those players, just to name a few. Nevertheless, just because they didn’t win a championship must not diminish what they did for the betterment of the sport.
We hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, be sure to check out our other basketball FAQ articles here.