The first decade of the new millennium belonged to two teams: the Los Angeles Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs. To be more specific, they were primarily dominated by two superstars in Kobe Bryant of the Lakers and Tim Duncan of the Spurs. That’s why we’re about to look at NBA stars who never won a title because of those two superstars.
During their respective runs, they took more than a few victims along the way. Unfortunately for some of the best superstars of the 2000’s, they were prevented from ever lifting a title because of either Bryant, Duncan, or maybe even both.
Before we run through some of these luckless legends, let’s take a look at how Bryant and Duncan terrorized the decade. Below is a complete list of champions between 1999 and 2010:
1999 – San Antonio Spurs
2000 – Los Angeles Lakers
2001 – Los Angeles Lakers
2002 – Los Angeles Lakers
2003 – San Antonio Spurs
2004 – Detroit Pistons (won against Los Angeles Lakers)
2005 – San Antonio Spurs
2006 – Miami Heat
2007 – San Antonio Spurs
2008 – Boston Celtics (won against Los Angeles Lakers)
2009 – Los Angeles Lakers
2010 – Los Angeles Lakers
NBA Stars Who Never Won A Title Because Of Kobe Bryant And Tim Duncan
As you can see, the Lakers and the Spurs won all but three out of the 12 titles during this decade (and beyond). Two out of these three times, the Lakers almost won them as well, if only they did not fall short in the Finals.
So who are some of the greatest and future/current Hall of Famers that were unable to reach the pinnacle of the sport simply because they played during the Kobe Bryant/Tim Duncan era? Check out our list below.
2000’s averages: 21.1 points, 9.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.2 blocks
Chris Webber, a Rookie of the Year winner and a five-time All-Star, had the best stint of his career during his time with the Sacramento Kings between 1999 and 2004. Unfortunately for him, this was also the time of the Lakers dynasty of the 2000’s, and he and the Kings turned out to be one of their biggest victims.
There were fireworks whenever the Kings faced off against the Lakers, and the battles were even more intense in the playoffs. LA went through the Kings in each of their three title runs, with their most memorable clash happening in the 2001 Western Conference Finals. That controversial series went all the way to Game 7, but in the end, the Lakers still came out on top.
2000’s averages: 24.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.6 3-pointers
While it was in Orlando that Tracy McGrady first made a name for himself, it was actually when he made his move out West to the Houston Rockets that he nearly made a run for the title. That was of course, until they came across some tough competition.
The Rockets did not exactly face off against either the Lakers or the Spurs in the playoffs year in and year out, but both teams — especially their co-division rivals in the Spurs — definitely made life difficult for the Rockets.
The furthest McGrady and the Rockets went in the playoffs was in 2009, where they were ousted by the Lakers in the second round.
2000’s averages: 27.5 points, 3.6 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 2.2 steals
Allen Iverson came extremely close to winning a chip in 2001. That was is MVP-winning year, and that season, he and the Philadelphia 76ers almost upset the odds in the Finals. They faced off against a powerhouse Kobe/Shaq Lakers side, that steamrolled their way to the Finals without losing a single game in the playoffs.
The Sixers surprisingly won Game 1 — which included that memorable stepover by Iverson on a fallen Tyronn Lue. That was all she wrote for Iverson and company, however, with the Lakers dominating the next four games, en route to title No. 2 out of three.
Iverson was never able to replicate the success of that memorable season, and unfortunately for him, the Lakers did not give him the opportunity to reach the pinnacle of the sport.
2000’s averages: 16.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, 9.6 assists, 1.6 triples on a 43.7-percent clip
Nash’s greatest achievement in his career was winning back-to-back MVP titles in 2005 and 2006. He was literally the best player in the league at that time, but unfortunately for him, he could not deliver the Phoenix Suns to a championship.
In 2005, Nash and the Suns lost to the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals. They suffered the same fate in 2007 and 2008, losing to San Antonio yet again, in the second and first rounds of the playoffs, respectively. Nash and company would go on one final run in 2010, only to be defeated by the Lakers in the Conference Finals.
Playing in the Western Conference, Nash was unfortunate enough to not only be prevented from winning the title by one of these two legends, but in his case, he fell to both Bryant and Duncan on separate occasions. A sort of a double whammy for the two-time Most Valuable Player winner.