Best teams without a title
1973-1983: Gervin's Spurs
The Spurs were one of four ABA converts starting in 1976, and George Gervin was responsible for much of their success. From 1978 to 1983, the Iceman led San Antonio to five titles, but never converted that into playoff success (oh how times have changed.)
1983-1988: Aguirre/Blackman's Mavericks
Led by 1981 No. 1 overall draft pick Mark Aguirre and teammate Rolando Blackman (selected eight picks later), the Mavs quickly found a place in the NBA after their inception in 1980. The franchise made its first playoffs in 1984 and won a wild first round Game 5 against Seattle in Moody Coliseum after their Reunion Arena home had been booked for the now-defunct World Championship Tennis tournament. (The Mavs' ownership group clearly didn't have much faith in their team.) However, the Mavs were often foiled by the Magic/Kareem Lakers, most notably in seven games in the 1988 Western Conference Finals.
1981-1990: English's Nuggets
The Denver Nuggets of the 1980s made the run-n-gun Suns look like offensive linemen running the 40 at the combine. Captained by eight-time NBA All-Star small foward Alex English, the Nuggets led the NBA in scoring for five consecutive seasons from 1981-1985. The 1981-82 squad still holds the record for points in a season (126.5 ppg) and consecutive games tallying at least 100 points (136, including every game of the 1981-82 season).
1982-1994: Wilkins' Hawks
The Dominique Wilkins-era Hawks are probably best-known for the "Human Highlight Reel's" 1988 Eastern Conference Semifinal Game 7 scoring battle with Larry Bird. However, that was the closest the 1985 Slam Dunk champion ever got Atlanta to the conference finals, losing to Boston or Detriot in the semis three years in a row.
1983-1995: Drexler's Blazers
The Drexler-led Blazers made it to the Finals twice during Rick Adelman's first head coaching job, losing to the Pistons in 1990 and the Bulls in 1992. However, Although he never brought a ring to Rip City, Clyde "The Glide" would earn one himself only months after being traded from Portland to Houston in 1995.
1988-1996 Chambers/Barkley's Suns
After three straight years of playoff-less Aprils, Tom Chambers and Kevin Johnson shockingly led the Suns to a Western Conference finals appearance against the Lakers in 1989.The franchise enjoyed similar playoff success until 1992, when Charles Barkley, then arguably the second best player in the league behind Michael Jordan, was traded to the Suns from the 76ers. That season, the team made it to the Finals, but fell to Jordan's Bulls in six games.
1990-1998: Payton/Kemp's Sonics
After enjoying consistent success during the 1980s, the Sonics found a pair of gems in power forward Shawn Kemp and point guard Gary Payton, taken in the 1989 and 1990 drafts respectively. Payton quickly became one of the league's most dynamic point guards. Along with Kemp, who many refer to as the Blake Griffin of the 90s, the duo formed what was known as the "Sonic Boom." Their furthest playoff run came in 1996, though, falling in six games in the Finals to the 72-win Bulls.
1987-2000: Ewing's Knicks
Patrick Ewing, the first player ever drafted No. 1 under the NBA Lottery system, was never quite enough to lift the Knicks to a ring. The former Hoya and Space Jam star led New York to the Finals in 1994 against the Rockets and 1999 (as a No. 8 seed) against the Spurs, but they fell to each team in their first of multiple titles. (No word if the Monstars' theft of Ewing's basketball skills had any effect on his inclusion on this list.)
1984-2003: Stockton/Malone's Jazz
Karl Malone and John Stockton, along with Barkley, Ewing, and Elgin Baylor are always listed as the top players to never win a ring. The dynamic duo of the all-time league assists leader combined with the low-post game of the two-time MVP "Mailman" formed what many regard as the greatest pick-n-roll combo in NBA history. After thirteen straight seasons of deep playoff runs, the Jerry Sloan-coached Jazz made it to the Finals in 1997 and 1998, but were haunted by the return of Michael Jordan to basketball each time.
1989-2005: Miller's Pacers
Reggie Miller's 18 seasons in Indiana might best be known for his tormenting of Spike Lee and Knicks fans during the 1990s, but his closest shot at a ring came in 2000. "Miller Time" was no match for the start of the Lakers dynasty, however, and the team fell in six games to the unstoppable Shaquille O'Neal who routinely dropped 40 points and 20 rebounds a game on the undersized Pacers. Miller's all-time three-point record of 2,560 was recently passed by Ray Allen this season.
1998-2006: Webber/Stojakovic/Bibby's Kings
Dubbed by a Sports Illustrated cover as "The Greatest Show On Court," the Kings of the early 2000s truly epitomised a 12-deep team. Mike Bibby, Chris Webber, Peja Stojakovic. Vlade Divac, Doug Christie, Scot Pollard, Bobby Jackson, and a young Hedo Turkoglu all contributed major minutes to the regular playoff contender. Their best season came in 2002, when they won 61 games to take the top record in the West, but lost a controversial conference finals in seven games. Disgraced former referee Tim Donaghy claims that game 6 was fixed by the NBA, with the opposing Lakers attempting 18 more free throws than the Kings in the fourth quarter.
2001-2007: Kidd's Nets
After coming to the Nets in 2001 in the infamous Stephon Marbury trade with Phoenix, Jason Kidd had an immediate impact on the beleagured franchise. He led the team to the finals in 2002 and 2003, but they were clearly overmatched by the dominant Lakers and Spurs. After a disappointing 2003-04 season, the Nets brought in Raptors star Vince Carter, but the Kidd-Carter-Richard Jefferson trio failed to reach even the conference finals again.
2004-2010: Nash/Stoudemire/Marion's Suns
The "Eight-Seconds-or-Less" Suns were one of the most fast-paced teams the league has ever seen. Running a series of drags down the court every transition, they revolutionized the game and punished slower, older rosters. After acquiring Steve Nash in 2004, the Canadian point guard had an immediate impact, winning back to back MVPs. The squad never reached the NBA Finals, though, losing in the West finals in 2005, 2006, and 2010.