There are close to 500 players in the NBA. But there is only one NBA championship team every year. So that leaves tons of players year and year out without a ring.
I’ve made a list of 10 active players that I hope go to the altar and get a ring.
Remember there are plenty of great players that didn’t get rings during their career for one reason or another. Guys like Dominique Wilkins or Bernard King played during the Lakers and Celtics title runs. Others – like Patrick Ewing, John Stockton, Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, Reggie Miller – were blocked by the Bad Boys’ Pistons, Jordan‘s Bulls, Hakeem‘s Rockets and the Lakers of the Shaq/Kobe era.
The active players I am going to omit from my list are guys that are just getting into their prime and have years left to take a team to the promise land. So you won’t find LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki, Gilbert Arenas, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Deron Williams, Chris Paul or Carlos Boozer.
Now… The List:
10. Steve Nash. Two-time MVP leading a very exciting team. Shows everyone that players can get better as they get older. He has the best chance on this list to get a ring even though there are three guys on the list that might think differently now.
9. Ray Allen. He’s one of those three guys I was talking about. Sweetest shot in the game. Great ambassador for basketball. And now in a place now where he doesn’t have to be The Man every night.
8. Jason Kidd. Has been to the rodeo before but came up short. Triple-double machine. Has slowed down a bit, but who wouldn’t want to play with him? Makes everyone better.
7. Jermaine O’Neal. People forget how he was written off as a bust his first few years in Portland. Now a premier big and All-Star. Wants to go to L.A. with Kobe. Smooth, but he needs another All-Star type player to ease pressure.
6. Paul Pierce. Second of the three guys whose chances have grown the past few days. Scorer, competitor and C’s captain. Got close to the Finals playing with Employee #8 (Antoine Walker, who has a ring; thanks, D-Wade).
5. Chris Webber. Went to Detroit for that title shot, but couldn’t accomplish the goal. Definitely has lost a step (or two, three, four!). Great passer. Will try to go to a team that needs one more piece to get over the hump.
3. Grant Hill/Tracy McGrady. I lump them together because I was part of the big free agent coup for the Magic in 2000. Headlines: “Magic sign three free agents to 200 million dollars.” The catch was that those two signed for 198 million of it. Do the math. They were supposed to be the next great duo. We know the story with Grant and T-Mac and still neither player has gotten out of the first round. That could change for both this year.
2. Allen Iverson. Love him. Toughest player I have ever played against. He’s fierce, plays hurt, has won every individual NBA award, now he just wants a real chance at a title again with a team who has legit chance to win – not that team he had in Philly.
1. Kevin Garnett. The Big Ticket. The last of the three guys I said that could make it happen coming from the East. Plays hard every possession, not just every night. Now he’s teamed up with two other All-Stars who are hungry like him. That’s why all three are on my list. For the first time in his career, he doesn’t have to be the main focal point and can just be KG.
The order is very debatable and it all depends on which player you like more than the other. But I can’t find 10 active star players more deserving than those 10. You can debate that also.
(Just a side note on list in reference to the Celtics getting KG… In August 1996, when the Houston Rockets traded their future (Sam Cassell and Robert Horry; nine rings combined) for Charles Barkley to team him with Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler, they were two wins from the Finals, but the Stockton/Malone combo put that to an end and the Rockets haven’t won a playoff series since. KG, Pierce and Allen could get their bling-bling at the same time or all the players on the list could go home broken-hearted again with one of the young stars mentioned above taking home the nice jewelry).