LeBron James can now breathe a sigh of relief because he is completely off the hook. After leading the Miami Heat to 4-1 series win over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2012 NBA Finals, he removed his name from one of the most dubious lists in basketball history: most valuable players who have zero championship rings.
Legends are born in the playoffs, and James knew in order to be called The King he needed to validate his crown by winning the Larry O’Brien trophy. After nine seasons and two epic failures in The Finals, LeBron finally captured that elusive title in 2012. NBA betting on Top Bet has the Heat poised to make another Finals run, a clear indication King James could fulfill his promise of wining multiple titles.
Since 1956 when the first NBA regular-season MVP award was handed out, two most valuable players finished their careers without winning the ultimate prize while three are still in pursuit of that elusive chip.
Here are the five NBA MVPs without a championship ring.
Charles Barkley (MVP in 1993)
Sir Charles captured the MVP during the 1992-93 season and led the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Finals that season. But Barkley’s Suns ended up losing to Michael Jordan’s Bulls in the ’93 Finals, and Barkley never got back to The Finals. Barkley finished his career with 23,000 points and 12,000 rebounds. He has said that not winning a NBA title shouldn’t define his career, but you know deep down Sir Charles would give up all those points and rebounds for one ring.
Karl Malone (MVP in 1997 and 1999)
With the help of his good friend John Stockton, The Mailman delivered two MVPs to the Utah Jazz. Unfortunately, Stockton and Malone couldn’t deliver a title to Utah. Malone led the Jazz to appearances in the NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998, but both times his teams lost to Jordan’s Bulls. Then, in 2004, Malone joined Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal with the L.A. Lakers hoping to make one final push for a ring. But Malone fell short again in The Finals, losing to the Detroit Pistons in five games. Malone finished his career as the second-leading scorer in history (36,928), and will go down in history as one of the greatest power forwards to ever play.
Allen Iverson (MVP in 2001)
When we’re talking about Iverson, we’re talking about the best little man in basketball. AI answered the call several times throughout his 13-year career, putting together a MVP season in 2001 and leading the Sixers to the NBA Finals. But Iverson ran into Goliath in the form of Shaq and the Lakers, and the Sixers were defeated in five games. After stints in Detroit, Denver and Memphis (extremely short stint there), Iverson rejoined the Sixers but did not finish the season. He took his talents to Turkey, but now he’s itching to get back in the NBA. In a recent interview with SLAM Magazine, Iverson said: “I want to finish my career out in the NBA, if that’s possible.”
Steve Nash (MVP in 2005 and 2006)
Nash is the only two-time MVP winner not to reach The Finals. He captured his first regular season MVP in 2005, leading the Suns to the NBA’s best record, but the San Antonio Spurs bounced Nash and the Suns in the Western Conference finals. Then, in 2006, Nash won his second MVP but was eliminated by the Dallas Mavericks led by his good friend Dirk Nowitzki, who removed himself from the ringless fraternity in 2011. Voters made a huge mistake by giving Nash the MVP in 2006. Nash didn’t deserve to win it over Kobe Bryant, who had one of the best statistical seasons that year and should have won MVP.
Derrick Rose (MVP in 2011)
It’s almost unfair to put Rose on this list because he’s only 22 years old. But, the fact of the matter is, D-Rose has an MVP trophy sitting at his home but doesn’t own an championship ring nor has he set foot in the NBA Finals. The Chicago Bulls have a very nice nucleus and Rose is only going to get better. Also, head coach Tom Thibodeau is one of best defensive minds in the game, so the Bulls will always be competitive.
Joel Huerto is the editor and publisher of OneManFastBreak.net. Follow him on Twitter @onemanfastbreak.