When it comes to having success in the NBA, a great career is most-often measured by two factors. The first being that player’s individual performance including stats, awards, and accomplishments. The second is how all of that player’s personal resume has translated to his team’s success. When we talk about the greatest players in the history of the game, these legends and icons didn’t just put up gaudy numbers, but did so when it counted most.
The ultimate team success is winning an NBA championship and having even one championship trophy all but legitimizes a player’s career. That’s why we often talk about Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Steph Curry, Magic Johnson and Bill Russell when we talk about these basketball MVPs and the game’s greatest to ever suit it up.
Flipping the coin, this is the same reason why we don’t hear the likes of Alex English, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Vince Carter, and Dominique Wilkins despite having great careers.
Not winning a championship is the reason why superstars like Allen Iverson, Patrick Ewing, Adrian Dantley, Charles Barkley, John Stockton and Karl Malone and Chris Paul are so rated so relatively low when it comes to the NBA’s celebrated anniversary teams and lists of the NBA’s greatest players of all-time. They simply weren’t able to win a championship and that’s tarnished their otherwise great individual careers.
NBA Players With Most Playoff Appearances
Before we even start talking about NBA championships, the great ones have to lead their teams to the post season first. We looked into the history of the NBA Playoffs for the players that appeared in the most NBA playoffs in their careers.
At the top of the list of most NBA Playoff appearances is the Stockton-Malone duo who went to a record 19 post seasons. Though they made the playoffs in every season they played, the glaring problem is that the twosome was never able to convert any of those playoff appearances into an NBA championship.
On this list, Clyde Drexler and Robert Horry are the only other players to go to the playoffs every season they played, but Big Shot Bob and The Glide both have championship rings.
On the other side, Malone and Stockton, retired role players Sam Perkins and Kyle Korver, and active players James Harden and Al Horford are the players that have played the most NBA playoff games without an NBA title according to Land of Basketball’s list of 50 players that make that criteria.
Other than that, the list is full of winners including LeBron, Tim Duncan, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Magic Shaquille O’Neal, and Kobe Bryant. Those names are to be expected, but it’s players like Robert Horry, Andre Iguodala and Derek Fisher that stand out to us. These three players may not have been stars of their teams at any point of their careers (okay Iggy was an all-star with Philly), but they certainly found ways to contribute to winning.
Horry won seven NBA championships with the Rockets, Lakers and Spurs making him one of the nine players to have seven (or more) NBA championship rings. Fisher won 5 NBA championships with the Lakers and Iguodala won four with the Golden State Warriors.
The lesson here for any basketball players reading this: if you want to be remembered fondly, you have to be a winner.