Some of the greatest basketball players of all time have ended their careers without winning a title. Some of them struggled with injuries, others didn’t have the supporting cast good enough to get them over the hump. Some of them just couldn’t get past some of the greatest teams ever assembled, such as the 60s Celtics or the 90s Bulls.
It is important to remember how great these players were despite not winning titles and to understand that rings aren’t everything. So many players that could never, in a thousand years, approach what these players have done have rings, but that does not make them great. And vice versa. Even without rings, these are NBA’s all-time greats.
1. Elgin Baylor
Elgin Baylor is one of the most influential players of all time. Easily. When you hear players making their all-time lists of the greatest players, especially players who played in the 60s, 70s and the 80s, his name always comes up. Everyone who knows something about basketball will tell you that Elgin revolutionized the position of small forward and was the first truly modern wing player.
He was drafted by the Lakers in 1958, while they were still playing in Minneapolis. In his rookie year, he led the league in points per game, was third in rebounds per game and eighth in assists. Over the following few years, he broke innumerable scoring records, with quite a few seasons with more than 30 points per game.
In 1960, the team relocated to Los Angeles and they had quite a run over the next few years. Unfortunately for Baylor, another great team always awaited them in the finals, the Bill Russell-led Boston Celtics. Elgin went to the finals eight times and never won. In the 1970-71 season, he played only 9 games before retiring for good because of nagging knee injuries. That year, the Lakers finally won the title and they even gave Elgin the ring. Still, most people believe it does not count.