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Elgin Baylor (Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers, 1958-72)
Often remembered as one of the greatest players in NBA history to never win a title, Elgin Baylor surely didn’t come up ringless through a lack of trying.
As perhaps the sport’s first aerially inclined superstar, he loomed over his less-athletic opponents on both ends of the floor, averaging a double-double in 11 of his 14 career seasons and making 11 All-Star games and 10 All-NBA teams as Jerry West’s co-leading man. The duo led the Lakers to eight NBA Finals appearances in a 12-year span and remain one of the preeminent one-two punches in league history.
John Havlicek (Boston Celtics, 1962-78)
Though almost never the team’s main star, John Havlicek was usually among the Celtics’ most important players throughout his time with the franchise.
A point-forward and two-way wing long before such terms existed, Havlicek recorded 31 career triple-doubles, made eight All-Defensive teams and ranks 17th all-time in scoring. Oh, and he won eight NBA championships, too, claiming Finals MVP in 1974 after averaging 26.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists in Boston’s seven-game triumph over the Milwaukee Bucks.
He’s not the only Celtic here. But as a criminally underrated player, Hondo deserves to be spotlighted whenever possible.
Reggie Miller (Indiana Pacers, 1987-2005)
Reggie Miller’s reputation received a major boost this spring as Michael Jordan remarked in The Last Dance that his Pacers teams were the only Eastern Conference club he was remotely concerned about during the Bulls’ dynasty.
Remembered now largely for his antics against the New York Knicks, it was nice to see Miller get proper shine from somebody who’d definitely know. The lanky 2-guard made five All-Star games and three All-NBA teams while leading the Pacers to six Eastern Conference Finals and one NBA Finals appearance. As a result of those heroics, he remains the greatest player in Pacers history.
Bob Pettit (Milwaukee/St. Louis Hawks, 1954-65)
One of the NBA’s forgotten stars, Pettit was a force from the start, averaging 20.4 points and 13.8 rebounds as a rookie and only improving from there. A two-time league MVP and four-time All-Star Game MVP, the LSU alum led the Hawks to the 1958 NBA title and led the sport in career points when he retired.
As his only franchise has since moved to Atlanta and he hasn’t played in the Association for over 50 years, Pettit’s legacy feels a bit adrift in 2020. But make no mistake: He’s the greatest Hawk ever.
David Robinson (San Antonio Spurs, 1989-2003)
After spending two years fulfilling his active-duty obligation with the Navy, David Robinson made his NBA debut in 1989 and quickly lifted the San Antonio Spurs to competence. The team improved its record by a staggering 35 wins in Robinson’s rookie year, and the rest was history.
Aptly nicknamed the Admiral, Robinson appeared in 10 All-Star games, made 10 All-NBA Teams and eight All-Defensive teams and won MVP and Defensive Player of the Year Awards. He wouldn’t win a title until Tim Duncan arrived in town, but he remains a towering figure in franchise history, both literally and symbolically.
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