Here are those who have come close to winning the title several times but have been unable to do so.
When it comes to the NBA, it's only natural to analyze all kinds of data and statistics. To satisfy this natural desire of every fan, we'll look at a very specific ranking today: the top ten players with the most lost finals. Because, while losing is never fun, a large number of NBA Finals losses indicates that you were a fierce competitor for a long time, and the names are far from insignificant.
10. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: 4 finals lost out of 10 played
It gets off to a fast start. Kareem Abdul Jabba r is the NBA's all-time leading scorer, with a career spanning more than two decades and ten appearances in the NBA finals. Sure, four defeats against six victories is a bit of a letdown, but there are still plenty of teams that deserve to be at the bottom of this special ranking.
After winning his first championship with Milwaukee in 1970-71, Jabbar returned to the Finals three years later with the same team. However, after 7 devastating races, he had to surrender to the Boston Celtics. John Havlicek was named MVP of the Finals.
Kareem's second Finals loss was in 1982-83 when he was playing for the Lakers and they lost 4-0 to the Philadelphia 76ers, whom they had beaten the year before. The yellow and purple had to surrender again in the Finals in 1983-84, this time to Larry Bird's Boston Celtics, who won the championship in seven games. The 1988-89 Finals were Abdul-fourth Jabbar's and final NBA season, in which his Lakers were beaten by the Detroit Pistons of the Bad Boys by a score of 4-0.
9. Earvin Magic Johnson: 4 finals lost out of 9 plays
His partner Magic fared a little worse than him, owing to a career interruption that occurred earlier than he would have expected. Of course, 9 final games is still a great haul, especially with 5 rings thrown in for good measure.
In terms of Finals losses, they are largely those already mentioned in the previous point with Kareem Abdul Jabbar, to which we must also add those of 1990-1991 when the Chicago Bulls were defeated in five games by Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls. There are the five titles won between 1979 and 1988, with three Finals MVPs. Not bad for one of the greatest players ever.
8. Wilt Chamberlain: 4 finals lost out of 6 plays
When it comes to Wilt Chamberlain, the percentage starts to deteriorate: two titles, albeit in two different shirts, in the face of four defeats one step away from glory. Wilt, one of the most dominant players in NBA history, has slashed and burned all the defenses he's faced, but he couldn't complete his stradominio during the NBA Finals.
The first loss was a 4-1 defeat to Bill Russell's Boston Celtics in the 1963-64 season. In 1966-67, he had a much better season with the Philadelphia 76ers, winning his first championship.
Then he moved to California to join the Los Angeles Lakers, with whom he won the title once more (1971-72 season), but also lost it three times: in 68-69 (against the Celtics for 4-3), 69-70 (defeated 4-3 by the New York Knicks), and 72-73 (defeated 4-3 by the New York Knicks) (also defeated by the New York Knicks 4-1).
7. Danny Ainge: ex aequo with 4 finals lost out of 6 plays
The former basketball and baseball player, who is now the general manager of the Boston Celtics, experienced both joy and disappointment during his basketball career. Between 1981 and 1989, Danny was a member of Larry Bird's Boston Celtics, with whom he won two NBA titles (1984 and 1986) and lost two more times (1985 and 1987) in the historic rivalry with Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul Jabba r's Los Angeles Lakers.
In 1990, Ainge joined the Portland Trail Blazers, with whom he reached the 1992 NBA Finals, losing 4-2 to Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls. In 1993, the Phoenix Suns made a similar appearance in the Finals, but Chicago prevailed 4-2.
It should be noted that the percentage of victories should be updated in light of his Celtics' win in the 2008 final and their loss in 2010 final, both while he was still managing them.
6. Mel Counts: ex aequo, with 4 finals lost out of 6 plays
At the time of the great rivalry, the Olympic champion center in Tokyo 1964 was one of the few players to have played for both the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers. And to say that his career had started on the right foot, with two championships with the Celtics in 1965 and 1966, is an understatement.
Between 1967 and 1973, he lost four times in a Lakers uniform (twice against Boston and a couple against New York). Remember how, in the 1969 Finals against the Celtics, Counts played a key role in keeping the Lakers alive until the final shot, which was sensationally stopped by Bill Russell, with Wilt Chamberlain limited by injury in Game-7.
5. Rudy LaRusso, Steve Mix, Max Zaslofsky: 4 finals lost out of 4 played
Despite playing in the NBA Finals four times, three players have never experienced the joy of winning a championship. If they believed in 'Mal common half joy,' it might comfort them to know that there are those who have done not only what they have done, but even worse.
Between 1962 and 1966, Rudy LaRusso had the misfortune of playing for the Lakers, who lost four straight finals to Russell's Boston Celtics.
Between 1973 and 1982, Steve Mix played for the Philadelphia 76ers and only lost in the NBA Finals once. Then, in 1983, he joined the Lakers for a season and lost one step away from winning the championship... to Philadelphia.
Between 1946 and 1953, Zaslofsky also lost four times: the first with the Chicago Stags (1-4 against the Philadelphia Warriors), the next three with the New York Knicks (all KOs) against the Rochester Royals (3-4), and twice with the Minneapolis Lakers (3-4 and 1-4).
4. Larry Foust: 5 finals lost out of 5 plays
Speaking of who did worse, here's Larry Foust, who has yet another loss to deal with: the eight-time NBA All-Star center will be comforted in the knowledge that a player in his Lakers, even if they are no longer in Minneapolis, has managed to do even worse, but we'll get to that later.
Between 1955 and 1961, Foust appeared in the NBA Finals five times in three different jerseys, losing three times to the Boston Celtics, once to the Philadelphia Warriors, and once to the Syracuse Nationals. Good, but not outstanding.
3. LeBron James: 6 finals lost out of 9 plays
"The Chosen One" could not be absent: the Chosen One has an incredible record of 8 consecutive NBA finals, which was only broken by his move to the Los Angeles Lakers last year, during a particularly unlucky season.
Of course, the losses, which totaled six, make headlines, except the first and last, two 4-0 losses that left little room for imitations: the first 4-0 loss came against the San Antonio Spurs in 2007 when James was wearing the Cleveland Cavaliers tank top for the first time. The second, however, was against the Golden State Warriors in 2017-2018, when LeBron was essentially alone on the island due to a devastating Kevin Durant.
Other Finals losses include those in 2011, when the Akron native surrendered in front of a magnificent Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks, in 2014, when his Miami Heat went KO against the Spurs for 4-1, in 2015, when he had to raise the white flag against the Warriors of Curry-Thompson-Green after 6 races, and in 2016-2017 when Golden State suffered a 4-1 defeat.
On the other hand, he will almost certainly have the opportunity to buck the trend, especially this year with his Lakers, who appear to be strong contenders for the championship.
2. Elgin Baylor: 7 finals lost out of 7 plays.
With so many NBA Finals, the number zero on the box that reads championship victories is bound to amaze. Even Elgin Baylor, the Hall of Famer whose jersey was retired by the demanding Los Angeles Lakers management, has never been able to celebrate a victory. During the rivalry at the time, he was pivotal in the Celtics' victory.
Between 1958 and 1971, Baylor only wore the yellow-violet jersey, finding himself playing during a period when Boston was a cut above all of its opponents: he lost six times to the green-and-whites and once to Willis Reed's New York Knicks in seven games.
1. Jerry West: 8 finals lost out of 9 plays
Jerry West, Mr. Logo, and fellow yellow-purple Elgin Baylor have all contributed to the Celtics' dominance. His only personal success, however, was almost equaled by the title of MVP of the 1969 NBA Finals, the only one in history who won while playing for the losing team.
Jerry stumbled into the Boston Celtics' 60s street domain, and by the end of the 1970-71 season, he had lost as many as seven Finals. In 1971-72, his Lakers were able to reach the final act by defeating the New York Knicks 4-1, with Wilt Chamberlain winning MVP of the Finals.
The following year, the Californian team advanced to the Finals once more, this time losing to the New Yorkers. Despite a staggering number of defeats, Mr. Logo remains one of the most admired and powerful players in the game's history.