With the first round losers now on their boats deep sea fishing and the 2nd round playoff teams battling ferociously for their lives, it is becoming quite evident just how treacherous the path to a NBA Championship really is. Even if you have a championship caliber team, such as the Los Angeles Clippers or the Oklahoma City Thunder, it does not mean that you will automatically win a championship ring, in fact, you may not even make it to the NBA Finals.
Just ask the San Antonio Spurs, it took them another six years before they were able to make it to the NBA Finals after their last championship in 2007. And even after the San Antonio Spurs were able to make it to the Finals last year, the trophy escaped their grasp in what is now considered one of the most tragic loss in NBA Finals history. When the ushers are rolling out the red carpet for you in order to hand you the trophy and then they immediately roll it back up, that is how quickly the tides can turn in the pursuit of a NBA Championship.
Aging veterans at the twilight of their careers such as Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Garnett, and Tayshaun Prince know better than anyone else just how difficult it is to win one ring, let alone multiple rings. These three players have each played for over twelve years in the NBA and they only have one ring to show for it. The truth of the matter is, Nowitzki, Garnett, and Prince were fortunate enough to even win one ring. Most players in the NBA never even win that. Even superstars such as: Charles Barkley, Karl Malone and Patrick Ewing were ultimately unable to get the job done.
This is a list of the Top-10 veterans who have yet to win a ring yet and want to join the ranks of Nowitzki, Garnett, and Prince, rather than Barkley, Malone, and Ewing.
10. Kenyon Martin, Age: 36
The 36-year-old was selected with the number one pick in the 2000 draft. For his first four years in the NBA, Kenyon Martin was fortunate enough to play with Jason Kidd as his point guard and the duo were one of the best pick and roll tandems in the NBA. Not only that, but Martin has always been a two-way player. His post-defense has always been above average and even in his late thirties, Martin has the strength and athleticism to guard players bigger than him. However, Martin has not been to the Finals since his first few years in the league when the Nets made it to the Finals in back-to-back years. Martin is an unrestricted free agent this summer and he would be wise to choose a team in the Eastern Conference that could use a solid back-up big man.
9. Al Harrington, Age: 34
Al Harrington was drafted out of high school with the 25th pick in the 1998 draft. Early on in his career, Harrington did make it to the Finals during his third year in the league with the Indiana Pacers, but they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in 6 games. Since then, Al has bounced around the league to 7 different teams, including another stint with the Indiana Pacers. The stretch four big man is now 34-years old and still a chasing after a ring, but his Washington Wizards could be a team that could advance deep into the playoffs every year if Big Al can manage to stick around. Harrington is going to be an unrestricted free agent, but could be a cheap option if a team needs a stretch four.
8. Antawn Jamison. Age: 37
The 37-year old was selected with the 4th overall pick in the 1998 draft. Antawn Jamison was an absolute monster in the paint during his college career and developed a reliable 3-point shot during his 15-year NBA career. Jamison has great numbers with a career average of 18.5 points per game and 7.5 rebounds per game. However, the NBA veteran has never made an appearance in the NBA Finals and may not have much left in the tank. If Jamison can stay somewhat healthy he may have one more year left in his game to contribute to a championship caliber team.
7. Elton Brand, Age: 35
The former number one pick in the 1999 draft is now 35-years old and still seeking a ring. Elton Brand is primarily a back-up center at this point in his career, but he is still playing a lot of minutes and is still a valuable asset for many NBA teams. In 2012, Brand joined the Dallas Mavericks hoping that he would be able to ride their championship coattails from 2011, but the Mavs were unable to defend their title the following year. Brand is an unrestricted free agent this summer, so it is very possible that he signs with a championship caliber team for the veteran’s minimum with the hopes of a getting a ring.
6. Jermaine O’Neal, Age:35
The 35-year-old was selected out of high school with the 17th pick in the 1996 draft. Jermaine O’Neal has more mileage on his legs than most NBA players because he was drafted out of high school, so despite being 35-years of age, he is closer to being 37-years of age. At the twilight of his career, O’Neal has experienced a bit of a resurrection season this year as the primary back-up center for the Golden State Warriors. If O’Neal can stay healthy, the Warriors would welcome his services and they are as good of a championship caliber team as any.
5. Zach Randolph
Zach Randolph is another high school player that jumped straight into the big leagues. The big man that thrives under the rim was selected with the 19th pick in the 2001 draft. When Z-Bo first entered the league he was an 18-year old kid that was far too immature to handle the NBA lifestyle and the NBA game. The comparisons to DeMarcus Cousins are there for a reason. However, Z-Bo has blossomed quite nicely over the years and has experienced a new birth as a member of the Memphis Grizzlies. The combination of Z-Bo and Marc Gasol form one of the best front courts in the NBA. They even got to the Western Conference Finals last year before being swept by the San Antonio Spurs. The now 32-year old is still seeking his first ring, but he is on an excellent team that may blossom into a title contender in they can stay healthy.
4. Andre Miller, Age: 38
Andre Miller was taken with 8th pick in the 1999 draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Nobody would have known it at the time, but Miller has proven to be one of the most durable players in the NBA. The big point guard played in 632 straight games before the streak ended due to a suspension. When all is said and done, the 38-year old may surprisingly become a Top-10 point guard in NBA history. Miller is only the 8th point guard ever to have over 15,000 points and 7,500 assists. However, the point guard with post-up moves has never been able to win a ring or advance deep into the playoffs. He is an unrestricted free agent this summer, but his current team – the Washington Wizards – are inching their way closer and closer to being a championship caliber team.
3. Vince Carter, Age: 37
Vince Carter’s career is both epic and tragic. Arguably the best dunker of all-time, watching Vince Carter play was like watching someone play NBA Jam. He could shoot, he could jump and he had swag. The only thing missing from Carter’s game was a little bit of nasty. You would think that someone this good and this talented had at least one MVP and one ring, but Carter has neither. Fast forward 16-years later and Carter is now 37-years old and he is now coming off the bench for the Dallas Mavericks. Carter still has some springs in his legs left, but he is going to have to ride on the coattails of someone much younger than Dirk Nowitzki if he is going to win a ring.
2. Amar’e Stoudemire
Amar’e Stoudemire was drafted out of high school with the 9th pick in the 2002 draft. Stoudemire immediately made his presence felt in the NBA with his size and athleticism. He was Rookie of the Year and has made the All-Star team six times during his stellar career. However, knee and back injuries have derailed Stoudemire’s effectiveness dramatically. Additionally, his inflated contract made him nearly impossible to trade. But one year from now Stoudemire’s contract will be off the books and some championship caliber teams may levy for his services for the veteran minimum, which may be his best chance at chasing down that elusive ring.
1. Steve Nash, Age: 40
The two-time MVP point guard has played for 18 seasons, yet has come up dry year after year chasing after a championship ring. Steve Nash was taken with the 15th pick in the 1996 draft and has had a superb individual career. He is an 8-time All-Star and has made it to the All-NBA First Team three times. Nash has also led the NBA in assists five different times, making him one of the best passers in NBA history. However, Nash has never even been to a NBA Finals. And at 40-years of age with just one-year left on his contract, he may have only one-year left to achieve his dream. At a certain point, all of the pain killers, rehab, and physical therapy may not be worth it for Nash.