What do Steve Nash, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Derrick Rose and Allen Iverson have in common? They are the only players to win a regular season MVP award and to not win a championship in their career (Barkley, Malone, Iverson) or yet in their career (Rose, Nash). Lebron seemed like a sure bet to win at least one in the years he has left but his appearance in the 2011 NBA finals will raise even more doubts. A year later, his name is erased from this list. Here are the stories of those who dreamed and failed and those still dreaming of being crowned NBA champion.
Barkley won his MVP award in the 1992-1993 season with the Phoenix Suns. He was traded there from the Philadelphia 76’ers after 8 seasons with the team in which they never got past the Eastern Conference Finals and missing out on the playoffs in the 1991-92 season.
Barkley was traded to the Phoenix Suns after gradually showing more and more discontent with the situation in Philly, not having enough pieces around him to make a run deep into the playoffs like he wanted. His move to Phoenix seemed to work like a charm. Barkley immediately became the leader of the team, scoring 25.6 points, grabbing 12.2 rebounds and dishing out 5.1 assists, winning him the regular season MVP award and helping the Suns to a league best record, 62-20. Barkley proclaimed that it was “destiny” for the Suns to win the title. Michael Jordan didn’t listen, and the Phoenix Suns lost in the Finals to the Chicago Bulls 4-2 despite having home court advantage.
Barkley continued with the Suns for 3 more seasons, later to be traded to the Houston Rockets for another 3 seasons but never got past the Conference Finals. Barkley retired after 14 seasons, with over 20’000 points and 10’000 rebounds. He averaged 22.1 points and 11.7 rebounds for his career, playing in 1073 games, participating in 11 all star games, selected All-NBA first team 5 times, inducted into the hall of fame in 2006, chosen as one of the 50 greatest NBA Players of all time and is one of only four player to retire with 20’000 points, 10’000 rebounds and 4’000 assists. He has one MVP and one Finals appearance.
The “Mailman”, as in “the mailman always delivers”, like Barkley would probably be on another list if there was no Michael Jordan in the world. Karl Malone won the MVP twice, in the 1996-97 season and the 1998-1999 season and reached the NBA finals three times. His attempt at the ring was thwarted three times, two by Michael Jordan and once, in his final season, by the Detroit Pistons while Malone was playing for the Lakers.
Malone teamed up with John Stockton for his entire Utah Jazz career, forming maybe the best 1-2 combo in the history of the game. Statistically at least. The title was always out of grasp for them. Karl Malone reached the conference finals in 1992, 1994 and 1996, losing all three times there and of course in the 1997 and 1998 playoffs, in which they reached the NBA finals only to face and lose to the Chicago Bulls.
In the 2003-2004 season Malone signed with the Lakers in an attempt to win the title with a team that won three times in a row between 2000-2002, hoping that with him and Gary Payton added to the mix as role players the Lakers would be unstoppable. The Lakers reached the Finals but were shocked by the Detroit Pistons in 5 games, as Malone played 4 before succumbing to injury and missed game 5. He retired shortly after that season even though he was a highly touted free agent by many title seeking teams.
Karl Malone is regarded as one of the greatest Power Forwards to play the game. He is ranked second on the all-time scoring list, with 36’928 points, with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar the only one ahead of him. He went to 13 NBA All-Star games and was a All NBA first team member 11 times. He was selected as one of the 50 greatest players of all time and will be inducted into the Hall Of Fame next year. He finished with 25 points and 10.1 rebounds per game, playing 1476 games. Malone played 80+ games in all but two seasons in his career, a proof of his consistency and strength that distinguished him throughout his career.
One of the greatest scorers in the history of the game, and certainly the smallest out of the greatest scorers. One MVP award, one NBA Finals, both in the same season. He’s still active, finishing the worst season in his career with the Detroit Pistons, Iverson’s window of winning a title seems to be closing, at least as a marquee player on a team.
Iverson has never had too much talent around him but that has never bothered him much, and in the 2000-2001 one season everything seemed to click. Iverson averaged 31.1 points per game with 4.6 assists and 2.5 steals per game, leading the Philadelphia 76’ers to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1983. There they met the Shaq-Kobe Los Angeles Lakers, and lost in 5 games. Iverson scored 48 points in game 1, getting the amazing upset win but that was it for Phily against the Lakers.
Iverson never went on to reach the NBA Finals again, and actually never got past a conference Semi Final since. He was traded to the Denver Nuggets where he enjoyed individual success but never went past the first round in the playoffs. This season he was traded to the Detroit Pistons but they were knocked out by Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in a 4 game sweep.
Allen Iverson has just finished his 13th NBA season. He holds career averages of 27.1 points, 6.2 assists and 2.2 steals per game. His scoring average is fifth best all-time. He has one MVP award, 10 All-Star appearances, 3 All-NBA first team selections and 4 NBA scoring titles. He is undoubtedly a future hall of fame member.
Steve Nash, 2 time NBA MVP? A lot of people never agreed to those votes, but the history of the game will always say the Canadian Point Guard has won two MVP’s. Kobe Bryant only has one, right now. Some say Shaq should have gotten it in 2004-2005, some say Kobe should have gotten it in 2005-2006. But Nash did. Right or Wrong? Doesn’t really matter.
Nash, unlike the rest of the players on this list has never made it to the NBA Finals. He has reached the Western Conference Finals 3 times, once with Dallas (2003 Playoffs) and twice with the Phoenix Suns (2005, 2006). He was chosen by the suns in the 1996 draft but never really got it going there during his 3 seasons. Only after going to Dallas and teaming up with Dirk Nowitzki did Nash start being a recognizable player. After he left to Phoenix in 2004, Nash really kicked it into overdrive, teaming up with Mike D’antoni, fitting perfectly into his run n’ gun type of basketball, winning the MVP two years in a row but failing to make it into the finals.
Although it’s arguable, I find it hard to believe Nash won’t find himself in the Hall of Fame. He’ll be inducted eventually. In 14 NBA seasons so far Nash has played 934 games, never going under 70 in his last 9 seasons but there have been obvious signs of him slowing down in the past two. He has averaged up until now 14.4 points and 8 assists per game. He has been to 6 All-Star games and a 3 time All-NBA first team member.
The youngest player in NBA history to win the MVP award has got plenty of time, but as of now, Derrick Rose is on this list. Leading the Bulls to an incredible 61-21 season, finishing with the best record in the league. Rose posted career highs in points, assists, rebounds and three point percentage in 2010-2011. He didn’t have the sidekick one usually needs to get through the rough patches, as the Bulls went down in 5 games to the Miami Heat in the Eastern conference finals.