7 Best Athletes Without a Championship

Life isn’t always equitable. Not everyone enjoys the same level of good fortune even the affluent. The best players in the gaming industry are not an exception to this norm.

Every sport has its share of great athletes whose careers wilt out without championship hardware. The Stanley Cup, the Larry O’Brien Trophy, the world championship, and the Olympic gold medal are just some of the prizes that these athletes want to win. These famous competitors have never won a title, but they deserve it more than anyone. In the world of gaming, they are acknowledged as the best athletes without a championship.

But a professional athlete’s career isn’t usually summed up by how many titles they’ve won. Some athletes have made it into the Hall of Fame even though they have never won a championship game. Here, we have listed the top seven best athletes without a championship and show how they became winners in the hearts of their fans even though they never won a championship.

1. Barry Bonds

Name of the SportSquad’s NameYearCareer Path
BaseballSan Francisco Giants
Pittsburgh Pirates
1993-20071986-199222 Seasons (1986- 2007)

Achievements Highlights:

7th Time National League MVP1990, 1992, 1993, 2001-04
14th Time All-Star in MLB1990, 1992-98, 2000-04, 2007
12th Time Silver Slugger Award winner1990-94, 1996, 1997, 2000-04
8th Time Gold Glove Award winner1990-94, 1996-98

A Terrible Failure: The San Francisco Giants were defeated 4-1 in Game 7 of the 2002 World Series.


Bonds was the focal point of baseball’s steroid crisis; he also set a new MLB record with 73 home runs in a single season in 2001. He also won seven MVP awards for the National League. To become one of the best baseball players of all time, Barry Bonds certainly didn’t need to utilize PEDs (performance-enhancing drugs), but he did it nonetheless.

Bonds never won a World Series, though. He only played in the Fall Classic once, in 2002, when he lost in seven games to the Anaheim Angels. Bonds was regarded as one of baseball’s most dangerous sluggers. He was a 14-time All-Star and won the NL MVP award seven times.

He also had a.318 career batting average, eight Gold Gloves, and two batting crowns. But he only made it to the World Series once, in 2002. His team lost to the Anaheim Angels in seven games, even though he hit.471/.700/1.294 with four home runs and six RBIs.

2. Ty Cobb

Name of the SportSquad’s NameYearCareer Path
BaseballPhiladelphia Athletics
Detroit Tigers
27 Seasons (1902-28)

Achievements Highlights:

American League MVP1911
Triple CrownAll-Century Team in MLB1909

A Terrible Failure: The Detroit Tigers were defeated 8-0 in Game 7 of the 1909 World Series.


Throughout the annals of athletics, Ty Cobb stands as one of the most iconic figures. Cobb won the batting crown 12 times, and he still has the highest career-hitting average in MLB (Major League Baseball)  history (.367). Six times Cobb also topped the AL in stolen bases, and four times he led the league in RBI.

With him at the command, the Detroit Tigers could not beat the Chicago Cubs. Between 1907 and 1909, Cobb made three consecutive trips to the World Series, losing all three times. Once to the Chicago Cubs and twice to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Cobb’s resume is missing one major accomplishment: a World Series title. The Tigers, which he coached, went to the World Series three times under his watch but lost each time.

3. Tony Gwynn

Name of the SportSquad’s NameYearCareer Path
BaseballSan Diego Padres198420 Seasons (1982-2001)

Achievements Highlights:

15th Time MLB All-Star1984-1987, 1989-1999
5th Time Gold Glove Award winner1986-1987, 1989-1991
7th Time Silver Slugger Award winner1984, 1986-87,1989, 1994-95, 1997

A Terrible Failure: The 1984 World Series was defeated by the San Diego Padres in five games.


Tony Gwynn was one of the finest pure hitters in the baseball industry. Gwynn spent his whole career with the San Diego Padres. He contributed to the franchise’s best moments, including victories in the NLCS over the Cubs and the Braves. Tony Gwynn is tied for the most National League batting titles with eight.

Throughout his 20-year career, he never hit below.309 for a single season. In his first year of eligibility, he was also voted to the Hall of Fame with an astounding 97.6 percent of the vote. He is also regarded as one of the best statesmen in the game. Despite his many achievements, he never won a crown, losing in 1984 and 1998. But he earned the title “best athlete without a championship” in this gaming industry. Sadly, Gwynn died of salivary gland cancer when he was 54 in 2014.

4. Allen Iverson

Name of the SportSquad’s NameYearCareer Path
BasketballMemphis Grizzlies
Detroit Pistons
Denver Nuggets
Philadelphia 76ers
1996-2006, 2009-10
14 Seasons (1996-2010)

Achievements Highlights:

Most Valuable Player in NBA2001 
11th  time NBA All-Star2000-10
2nd time NBA All-Star Game MVP2001, 2005
7th time All-NBA Team1999-2003, 2005
Rookie of the Year in NBA1997

A Terrible Failure: The Philadelphia 76ers were defeated in five games by the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals.


Iverson may be the best NBA (National Basketball Association) player of all time in terms of raw talent. Iverson won the hearts of many with his carefree approach to the game. Nonetheless, it wasn’t good enough to warrant a championship.

Allen Iverson, who stands at a modest 6-feet tall, was the NBA’s first overall choice in 1996 and went on to be named to 11 All-Star teams and the MVP of the All-Star Game twice. He won the scoring title four times, made the All-NBA team seven times, and was named the Most Valuable Player in 2001.

 In 2001, Iverson led the 76ers to the NBA Finals, where they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers. Even though Philadelphia was eliminated in five games, Iverson was awarded NBA Finals MVP. For his significant career record, Iverson got the title  “best athlete without a championship.”

5. Karl Malone

Name of the SportSquad’s NameYearCareer Path
BasketballLos Angeles LakersUtah Jazz2003-04
19 Seasons (1985-2004)

Achievements Highlights:

2nd  Time NBA MVP1997, 1999
14th Time NBA All-Star1988-98, 2000-02
2nd Time NBA All-Star Game MVP1989, 1993
4th Time All-NBA Defensive Team1988, 1997-99
All-Rookie Team in NBA1986

A Terrible Failure: The Utah Jazz were defeated 87-86 in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals.


Karl Malone was extremely fortunate to spend nearly his entire career playing with point guard John Stockton, a player who could generate offense in various ways for his teammates. Stockton, the NBA’s all-time leader in assists, was also the league’s all-time leader in steals, making him a great match to Malone’s hard-running style.

Malone and John Stockton formed an unbeatable duo that helped the Utah Jazz reach the playoffs 18 years in a row. Malone won the Most Valuable Player title in 1997 and 1999 and was a member of the NBA All-Star team 14 times. But he failed to win an NBA championship, losing in back-to-back seasons (1997) and (1998) against Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, respectively.

 In his entire postseason career, Malone played in 193 contests and averaged 24.7 points and 10.7 rebounds per game. Malone and the Los Angeles Lakers returned to the Finals in 2004, but this time they were defeated in five games by the Detroit Pistons despite being heavy favorites. However, due to his career accomplishments, he was recognized as the best athlete without a championship.

6. Dan Marino

Name of the SportSquad’s nameYearCareer Path
FootballMiami Dolphins1984-199917 seasons (1983-99)

Achievements Highlights:

Most Valuable Player in NFL1994
8th Time All-Pro in the NFL1983-86, 1988, 1992, 1994, 1995
9th Time in the Pro Bowl1983-87, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1995
NFL Comeback Player1994
Hall of Fame for Pro Football2005

A Terrible Failure: In Super Bowl XIX, the Miami Dolphins were defeated by the San Francisco 49ers, 38-16.


It is commonly stated that leaky defenses prevented Marino’s regular-season prowess from translating into postseason victory. During his career, most of Miami’s postseason losses featured high-scoring opponents, averaging 34.5 points per defeat. During his breakthrough 1984 season, Marino set single-season records for throwing yards (5,084) and touchdowns (48), which held for over two decades.

Regrettably, Marino and the Dolphins only made it to the Super Bowl in the 1984 season, where the legendary San Francisco 49ers defeated them. The fastest-releasing and most accurate quarterback in NFL (National Football League)  history retired with 40 single-season and career passing records. He was deemed the best athlete without a championship.

Dan Marino, who led the Dolphins to a Super Bowl loss in only his second season, has the most career victories of any quarterback who hasn’t also won the championship with 155. He never even returned.

7. Henrik Lundqvist

Name of the SportSquad’s NameYearCareer Path
HockeyNew York Rangers2005-202016 seasons (2005-2021)

A Terrible Failure: The Los Angeles Kings won the 2014 Western Conference by defeating the New York Rangers.

Achievements Highlights:

5 Time an NHL All-Star2009, 2011, 2012, 2018, 2019
Vezina Trophy2012
All-Rookie Team in the NHL
The 2010 NHL All-Decade Team


When it came to the National Hockey League, Henrik Lundqvist was up there with the toughest of the tough. You would be hard-pressed to find an NHL subculture that doesn’t hold Lundqvist in high regard. During his fifteen seasons in the National Hockey League with the New York Rangers, Lundqvist established himself as one of the sport’s all-time great goaltenders.

Also, he was one of the team’s most famous players. In 2012, he was awarded the NHL’s best goaltender and set a record for most league MVP awards with nine with the New York Rangers. He was a five-time finalist, played in five All-Star Games, and helped Sweden win the gold medal in the 2006 Olympic Games in Torino.

 Even though “King Henrik” led Sweden to an Olympic gold medal in 2006, he failed to bring home the Stanley Cup in 16 seasons as a professional hockey player. Upon reaching the year 2021, he stepped down from his position. For his great achievement in his career, he was recognized as the best athlete without a championship.


The odds of becoming a professional athlete are so small — so astronomically rare — that the chosen few who do so have already overcome incredible challenges. The ones at that level who triumph in championships? The rarest of the rare, they are.

Barry Bonds, Tony Gwynn, and Ty Cobb – were the kings of baseball. Karl Malone and   Allen Iverson-  were the leaders of basketball. Besides, Henrik Lundqvist – the master of hockey, and Dan Marino- the emperor of football, were among the best athletes in the world. Nothing was standing between them and the championship except a string of unfortunate events.

They are the greatest players who competed in professional sports and the best athletes without a championship. Their winning ring was at the tip of their fingers, but luck deceived them. However, because of their outstanding performance and unwavering effort, which added a fresh perspective to the world of sports, they will live forever in the hearts of every sports fan.


Who is the Best Athlete to Never Win a Championship?

There are so many athletes who were greater than the greatest but never won a crown. Some of them are Barry Bonds, Tony Gwynn, Ty Cobb, Karl Malone, Allen Iverson, Henrik Lundqvist, Dan Marino, etc.

What Makes Athletes so Successful?

They just naturally have and make good use of skill sets that consistently yield favorable outcomes. They have faith in their own potential. They have a plan and support, and they keep going even when things get tough.

3. Who Qualifies as an Athlete?

A person who has had training in sports and activities that demand physical skill, stamina, and strength or who is adept at such games and exercises.

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Al Amin Sagor is simply a movie freak who is passionate about writing entertainment content. He loves to watch web series, and movies and write on celebrity gossip or trendy movie news. He also covers media and entertainment news on various online platforms. He is one of the "Jewel" of The News Titan.


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