For a lot of NBA players, winning a championship define their careers. Because of the difficulty of winning a championship, most players have to bring out their best in order to attain this elusive goal.
For superstars, this may take scoring more than 50 points just to lead a team to a championship. On the other hand for role players, it may mean getting the crucial defensive stops, rebounds, or buckets. The championship stage requires a team effort in order to reach the pinnacle.
Although, theoretically, it takes a lot of effort to win a championship, there are players who did not need to exert much on the court in order to win a coveted NBA ring. In fact, in the NBA history books, even some benchwarmers can say they have more rings than superstars such as Charles Barkley, Vince Carter, Steve Nash, or Tracy McGrady. Because of this, sometimes it’s better to be lucky to be part of a championship team, rather than being a talented superstar who just can’t catch a championship break.
It is worth noting, though, that some of these players may not contribute much on the court, but provide a great boost in the locker room in terms of chemistry with their veteran presence, leadership skills, and great personality.
Nevertheless, for this piece, let’s take a look at 30 NBA players who didn’t need to to do much on the hardwood to win a NBA championship.
Championship: Boston Celtics (‘07-‘08)
It can be hard to believe, but Brian Scalabrine won an NBA championship. Dubbed as the White Mamba, Scalabrine has pretty much been a bench player throughout his career. Having played for the New Jersey Nets, Boston Celtics, and Chicago Bulls in 11 NBA seasons, he averaged 3.1 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 0.8 assists.
His championship moment came in 2008 when the Boston Celtics led by Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Keven Garnett defeated the Kobe Bryant-led Los Angeles Lakers in six games for the NBA championship. For the season, Scalabrine played 48 games and averaged 1.8 points, 1.6 rebounds, and 0.8 assists per outing. However, the funny thing is that the White Mamba did not even appear in a single playoff game during the post season after playing his final regular season game on April 16, against the New Jersey Nets where he logged in seven points and six rebounds.
Despite not even registering a single game during the 2008 Playoffs, Scalabrine enjoyed his first career championship, which was the Celtics’ first title since 1986. It’s pretty crazy to realize that Scalabrine is better than the likes of Tracy McGrady, Charles Barkley, and Steve Nash when it comes to the championship count.
Championship: Boston Celtics (‘07-‘08)
Aside from Brian Scalabrine, another player who enjoyed the championship of the 2008 Boston Celtics was Scot Pollard. The former Kansas center played for Detroit Pistons, Sacramento Kings, Indiana Pacers, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Boston Celtics as a reserve center for 11 seasons. If you thought that Scalabrine didn’t do much, Pollard did even less. In the Celtics’ regular season, Pollard appeared only in 22 games and averaged 1.8 points, 1.7 rebounds, and 0.1 assists. As you can tell, Pollard was a non-factor for the Celtics, with exception to the January 2 game against the Houston Rockets where he scored 10 points and five rebounds in 13 minutes of action, although it is worth noting that he also fouled out in that contest.
Pollard’s last game for the Celtics during that season was in February 24, which would be his final game in the NBA where he registered a single point in six minutes of action. It is a head scratcher as to why the team did not even waive Pollard, since like the White Mamba, the Celtics reserve center did not even see a single minute in the post season.
With the Celtics winning the championship that year, Pollard announced his retirement from the league and ended his 11 year career with a championship. Not a lot of players can end their careers on a good note, so I guess you can say he went out with a bang.
Championship Year and Team: San Antonio Spurs (‘02-‘03)
Mengke Bateer isn’t really a name that NBA fans remember. However, he was a superstar for China. An influx of Chinese basketball players were entering the NBA at that time with the likes of Yao Ming and Wang Zhizhi getting drafted into the league. The Spurs took a chance on Bateer, who had a solid showing during the 2002 FIBA World Championships.
Gregg Popovich has a knack for molding international stars into solid NBA players like Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Patty Mills. Unfortunately, he wasn’t all that successful with Mengke Bateer. In the 2002-2003 season with the Spurs, he appeared only in 12 games and logged in 0.8 points, 0.8 rebounds, and 0.3 assists in limited action. His most productive game came at January 25 against the Detroit Pistons, where he scored five points and grabbed four rebounds in 15 minutes of action.
With a poor performance during the regular season, Bateer was no longer fielded by the Spurs during the postseason. The Spurs did win the NBA Championship in 2003. As a result, Bateer became the first Asian NBA player to win a championship despite being a non-factor for San Antonio. Only three Asian players have won the coveted NBA title in league history.
Championship: Los Angeles Lakers (‘08-‘09)
Speaking of Asian players, another one who made the list is Sun Yue. Just like Bateer, Sun was a superstar in China. In fact, he was even nicknamed as the Chinese Magic Johnson. Standing at 6’9, Sun had the tools as he also had guard skills. Unfortunately, to the detriment of Chinese basketball fans, the Chinese star didn’t live up to their expectations. Drafted by the Lakers in the second round of the 2007 NBA Draft, Sun played in only 10 games for the Lakers and averaged a measly 0.6 points, 0.0 rebounds, and 0.2 assists as he was buried deep in the bench. His best game was his NBA debut against the Milwaukee Bucks where he scored four points in only five minutes of action. The Lakers guard barely made an impact in the succeeding games.
With Sun playing behind the likes of Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher, and Pau Gasol, he did not need to step on the NBA hardwood in the whole postseason to win his first and only NBA Championship. While riding the bench, the Lakers won their 15th NBA championship. Sun became only the second Asian player to win the coveted championship alongside the previously mentioned Mengke Bateer and former Raptors guard Jeremy Lin.
Championship: Los Angeles Lakers (‘00-‘01)
Isaiah Rider isn’t actually a terrible player. Before he played for the Lakers, Rider was a decent starter for teams such as the Minnesota Timberwolves, Portland Trailblazers, and Atlanta Hawks. He averaged double figures in his first seven seasons in the league, even scoring 20.4 points per outing during his sophomore year. He also proved to everyone that he had the hops when he took the Slam Dunk Contest title in 1994.
For the 2000-2001 season, Rider joined the defending champions at that time, the Los Angeles Lakers. In that season, Rider showed flashes of his talent as he was able to score double figures on multiple occasions, highlighted by a 24 point performance against the New Jersey Nets in January. As a bench player, Rider produced 7.6 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.7 assists per outing. However, despite a decent production off the bench during the season, Rider would literally ride the Lakers bench after registering his 67th game for the franchise with late Kobe Bryant needing more minutes during that time.
Of course, you just can’t go wrong with the leadership of the Black Mamba. Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal led the way and brought the second straight championship to the Lakers franchise and Rider wasn’t needed at all. He did not even have to register a single second of action in the playoffs to win his first and only NBA championship of his career.
Championship: Miami Heat (‘11-‘12)
Eddy Curry was a solid starting the center back in the days when he played for the New York Knicks and the Chicago Bulls. Although he wasn’t an All-Star center, he has proven at times that he can keep up with the best big men in the league. The Miami Heat franchise took a chance on the big man by signing him to a one year contract, after slimming down while taking his talents to China.
The franchise was collecting veteran players at that time to surround their Big Three in Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh. With a stacked lineup, Curry was a non-factor for Miami, as he only averaged 2.1 points, 0.9 rebounds, and 0.1 assists per outing in limited action. He did start in one game though, which was his final game for the Heat, as he logged in 10 points and four boards.
Curry never stepped on the floor for the Heat ever again, as he did not even get a single appearance in the postseason. Fortunately for him though, Lebron James and the rest of the Big Three won their first championship together. Despite not playing a single second in the playoffs, the big man achieved his first and only NBA Award, a ring.
Championship: Chicago Bulls (‘95-‘96)
The 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls were a historic team, as they were the first team to earn at least 72 wins for the season while also winning the championship that season. Jack Haley was a part of that team, despite playing only in one game for the season. Rumors circulated that Haley’s role in the team was simply to keep Rodman in check, but Haley thinks otherwise.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Haley said “I’ve felt it’s important to be a part of the greatest team in history and to get out and show people I’m not Dennis’ [Rodman] babysitter. I never have been. I’ve been a basketball player from Day One.”
Haley didn’t play the all season until the Bulls’ final regular season game against the Washington Bullets. Coming off the bench, he scored five points on two of six shooting in seven minutes of play. The Bulls’ reserve player was fired up and was happy with his performance.
Based on the Chicago Tribune newspaper, Haley responded “It felt good to finally get in a game. I was real excited and my adrenaline was pumping. I haven’t played in a year. I missed some easy shots. I guess I was aggressive. I took almost a shot per minute played.”
For Haley, that would be his first and final contribution for the Bulls. After a historic 72-10 record, Michael Jordan and the Bulls went on to win the NBA Championship for their first championship since the end of their first three-peat in 1992. Fortunately for Haley, he didn’t have to do much on the court to not only be part of the second winningest team in NBA history, but also taking home a NBA ring that has remained elusive for many superstars.
Babysitter or not, this man is an NBA Champion!
Championship: Detroit Pistons (‘03-‘04)
Coming out of Serbia, Darko Miličić was projected to be one of the best players out of Europe. Detroit was convinced that the Serbian big man would be the future cornerstone of the franchise that they drafted him 2nd overall, planning him ahead of superstars like Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, and Carmelo Anthony in the stacked 2003 NBA Draft Class.
Unfortunately, the Miličić could not live up to the expectations. In his rookie season, the Pistons big man could only muster 1.4 points and 1.3 rebounds per game. The 7ft. center played in limited minutes and appeared only in 34 regular season games.
Although everyone says the Serbian center was a bust, he did win a NBA championship in his rookie year and was the first one to achieve that feat ahead of his fellow superstars in his draft class. It is just that he didn’t do much in achieving it. Miličić only scored one point in the 2004 Playoffs in eight games of action.
Despite turning out to be a bust, Miličić could say he won a championship ahead of Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, and Carmelo Anthony. Furthermore, he could also say that he was part of the team that dispatched the heavily favored and stacked Los Angeles Lakers led by no other than Shaquille O’Neal and the late Kobe Bryant.
Championship: Cleveland Cavaliers (‘15-‘16)
With Lebron James and the Cavaliers coming back from a 1-3 hole to conquer the Stephen Curry led Golden State Warriors, it was difficult to remember that Jordan McRae was part of that historic team. McRae served as a bench player for the Cavs and was called up to be part of the team in the latter part of the 2015-2016 NBA season. As a result, he only appeared in 15 games for the Cavs. He averaged 4.1 points, 1.0 assists, and 0.8 rebounds in limited action. Although, it is worth noting he started one game during the season against the Detroit Pistons and scored a career high 36 points and dished out seven assists. McRae even made the game-tying three point shot to send the game into overtime.
With a performance like that, you’d expect McRae to be an additional piece during the Cavs’ playoff campaign. However, that was not the case. In the playoffs, the Cavs reserve guard appeared in only two games. The first one in the first round in Game Two against Detroit where he scored five points in just a little over a minute of action. His next postseason appearance would be in the NBA Finals in Game Three, where he scored four points in almost three minutes of action.
Although McRae did not need to produce that much, he still enjoyed the historic NBA championship, which was the franchise’s first in history. Not everyone can say they were part of the team that clawed back from a 1-3 deficit to win the NBA trophy.
Championship: San Antonio Spurs (‘06-‘07)
Jacque Vaughn was a great player in college. He was even declared the McDonald’s All-American MVP in 1993. However, his excellent college performance failed to translate in the NBA level. Instead, the 6ft. 1 guard served as a reserve player for the entire 12 seasons of his career which saw him have stopovers with the Utah Jazz, Atlanta Hawks, Orlando Magic, New Jersey Nets, and San Antonio Spurs. Despite playing a limited role, Vaughn has the right say he has won a NBA championship.
In the 2006-2007 NBA season, Vaughn averaged 3.0 points, 2.0 assists, and 1.1 rebounds per game in 64 games. Although Vaughn suited up for the Spurs for all of their games in the 2007 Playoffs, he was barely a factor for the Spurs. In 20 games, the 6’1 guard only averaged 2.2 points,1.4 dimes, and 0.5 boards per game. Nevertheless, Vaughn was part of the team that swept a young Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers to capture the franchise’s fourth NBA title. This would be the first and only ring that Vaughn won in his entire career.
To win a NBA championship, sometimes it’s better to have talented teammates like Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, or Manu Ginobili.
Championship: San Antonio Spurs (‘13-‘14)
Aaron Baynes has been a decent big man for the Phoenix Suns this year. However, people often forget that he has won a NBA championship in his career. The Australian big man was part of the 2014 San Antonio Spurs team that denied the Miami Heat of a three-peat.
Although Baynes was part of the team, he was technically a non-factor. For the regular season, he appeared in 53 games and started in four occasions. He averaged 3.0 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 0.6 assists per game. The 6’10 big man also made an appearance in the playoffs, at the very least, but was hardly made his presence felt. In 14 games, Baynes registered a measly 2.3 points and 2.2 rebounds. He did score double figures at one game though, as he scored 10 points and grabbed 7 rebounds in Game 1 against the Portland Trailblazers. However, that would be his biggest and final contribution for the eventual championship team.
Of course if you have Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Kawhi Leonard on your team, it might be wiser to just let them do their thing. Baynes did just that and won an NBA Championship which denied Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh their potential third NBA championship together.
Championship: Toronto Raptors (‘18-‘19)
Jeremy Lin was a hit, when he started the Linsanity movement in New York, which won the hearts of many fans around the world. However, he barely contributed much in the Toronto Raptors’ conquest of their first NBA Championship. Lin signed with the Raptors late in the season and was supposed to play back up to guards in Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet. Unfortunately, Lin was hobbled by injuries which negatively affected his production and movement on the court.
In 23 games of action for the Raptors, Lin registered 7.0 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 2.2 assists. Although his performance was not all too bad for a reserve player, his presence was hardly felt in the playoffs. The former New York sensation appeared only in eight games during the postseason and could only muster 1.1 points, 0.4 rebounds, and 0.5 assists per game. In the NBA Finals, he only appeared in Game 1 during garbage time, when the Raptors had a huge lead in the final minute of the contest.
Nevertheless, he is only the third basketball player of Asian descent to win a NBA championship. Furthermore, he was also part of the team that dethroned the dynasty of the Golden State Warriors that were led by no other than Stephen Curry.
Championship: San Antonio Spurs (‘02-‘03)
Jacque Vaughn isn’t the only Spurs player in this list that had a great college career. Coming out of Duke, Danny Ferry collected a lot of accolades that included Naismith College Player of the Year, USBWA Player of the Year, two ACC Player of the Year Awards, and a couple of All-ACC teams and All-American teams. To think that he achieved all of those, one would think Ferry had the tools to make it big in the NBA. Unfortunately, Ferry did not even come close to replicating his college performance in the NBA level.
Ferry spent most of his career playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers as a bench player. However, he did start in most games for the team during the 1995-1996 and 1996-1997 seasons and averaged in double figures. He put up 13.3 and 10.6 points, respectively. But after that, Ferry’s was relegated back to his role as a reserve player. Fortunately for him, he was eventually shipped to the San Antonio Spurs where he had teammates like Tim Duncan, David Robinson, and Manu Ginobili.
In 2003, Ferry was fortunate enough to be part of the team that won the championship at the expense of the New Jersey Nets, as he can thank his talented teammates for that. During that season, Ferry’s presence was hardly felt as he only contributed 1.9 points, 1.2 rebounds, and 0.3 assists per outing in 64 games of action. On the other hand, his playoff performance wasn’t outstanding either. He did however had a relatively decent game when he had his first and only start in the postseason in Game two against the Phoenix Suns of the First Round. Ferry registered six points and 10 rebounds, but did it inefficiently as he shot two for 10 from the field and accumulated five fouls in just 31 minutes of action. Besides this, Ferry had a forgettable playoff performance in 16 games and was arguably the worst player on that Spurs championship team. Nevertheless, he can still call himself a NBA Champion and retired as one at that.
Championship: San Antonio Spurs (‘04-‘05)
Tony Massenburg has been a journeyman throughout his NBA career. In 17 seasons in the league, Massenburg played for 12 different NBA teams. Although he gave a good account of himself in his stints with the Los Angeles Clippers, Toronto Raptors, and the Vancouver Grizzlies by averaging double figures in terms of points, the 6’9 big man barely made an impact in the league.
He did win a championship with the San Antonio Spurs in 2005, but he was hardly a difference maker for the team. In that season, the former Spurs big man could only average 3.2 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 0.2 assists per outing in 61 games. He did start in six games and had a few double-digit scoring performances, but that was his greatest contribution to the championship. In the postseason, Popovich hardly used Massenburg, as he only saw action in nine out of the Spurs’ playoff games. In the NBA Finals, Massenburg only played in Games 2,3, and 4 where he finished scoreless.
Although Massenburg didn’t have to do much, he still won a NBA ring during his final year in the NBA. Fortunately for him, he’s one of the few players that ends his NBA career as a champion.
Championship: Miami Heat (‘05-‘06)
Wayne Simien isn’t a familiar name to NBA fans, but he was part of the historic Miami Heat team that captured the franchise’s first ever championship in league history. Simien won his first and only NBA championship during his rookie year. However, his performance didn’t really turn some heads. The 6’9 forward appeared only in 43 games and registered 3.4 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 0.2 assists per game. Simien was also glued to the bench come playoff time as he only suited up for two of the Heat’s 23 postseason games where came out scoreless in both occasions. The reason could be that he was playing behind Shaquille O’Neal and Udonis Haslem.
Despite his limited play and small production, Simien was able to enjoy a championship ring thanks to Dwayne Wade’s MVP performances and Shaquille O’Neal’s presence in the paint. Simien didn’t stay in the NBA for too long, as he played for one more season with the Heat, where he only played for eight games, before he eventually took his talents to Spain and played for Cáceres Ciudad Del Baloncesto. Although Simien didn’t stay in the NBA for too long, not everyone can say they won a NBA championship, and doing it as a rookie at that.
Championship: Dallas Mavericks (‘10-‘11)
Brian Cardinal was a player that was never really trusted with extended minutes. As a result, when the Mavericks got him for the 2010-2011 season, Cardinal was considered as the 12th man of the team. With limited playing time, Cardinal only averaged 2.6 points, 1.1 rebounds, and 0.7 assists per game. Dubbed as The Custodian, Cardinal mostly played during garbage time or moments in the game that no longer had any bearing.
In the playoffs, Cardinal was barely a factor. In his limited time on the floor, he was simply there to draw some offensive fouls and to shoot open three point shots, he did convert 75% on three of four shooting in a total of nine postseason games. Although he only averaged 1.1 points, 0.3 boards, and 0.2 dimes per outing, his antics and effort on the court earned the Mavericks crowd’s hearts. Thanks to Dirk Nowitzki’s hot hand, Cardinal was able to win his first and only championship ring of his career by simply doing his job as the 12th man of the team which is to mostly cheer his teammates on and to play the non-bearing moments of the game.
Like a true custodian, Cardinal did his job with a lot of flair, just not statistically.
Championship: Golden State Warriors (‘14-‘15)
Justin Holiday has been a quite a journeyman that couldn’t find a home in any NBA team. He did have a stopover with the Golden State Warriors during his sophomore year, and that helped him capture his first and only NBA championship so far. Thanks to Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, Justin Holiday became an NBA Champion.
On the court, Holiday only played limited minutes. That’s a given, especially when you’re playing behind Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Leandro Barbosa. In that championship season, Holiday played 59 games and started in four of them. He logged in 4.3 points, 1.2 rebounds, and 0.8 assists per outing which wasn’t terrible for a third string guard. However during the playoffs, Holiday only appeared in five out of the Warriors’ 21 playoff games and played only about two minutes per game. The 6’6 guard only averaged 0.6 points, 0.2 assists, and 0.2 rebounds per game.
Fortunately for Holiday, riding the bench and producing less than a single point per game in the playoffs was enough to earn him a NBA Championship. You can count on Justin Holiday to be one of the players that will ride on the hot hands of Stephen Curry.
Championship: Los Angeles Lakers (‘00-‘01, ‘01-‘02)
If you think averaging one to two points per game and earning a championship is crazy, well Mark Madsen didn’t have to do much to win two consecutive championships. Well if you’re playing behind Shaquille O’Neal and alongside a terrific guard in Kobe Bryant, Madsen would be happy to give way to these superstars. The Lakers were just outright dominant, as they achieved a three-peat from 1999-2002. Fortunately for Madsen, he was part of the team in the last two championships of that Lakers feat.
In the 2000-2001 season, the Mad Dog won his first championship in his rookie year despite producing subpar numbers. He averaged 2.0 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 0.3 assists per game in 70 games of action. During the playoffs, Madsen wasn’t utilized as much as he only played in limited minutes, as he played only 3.7 minutes per game while scoring 0.4 points. In the succeeding season, Madsen was just as forgettable and showed no improvements. The Mad Dog was even worse in the playoffs this time around as he couldn’t buy a single point.
For a player, that scored two points per game, it’s pretty absurd how he also won two straight championships in his rookie and sophomore years. This is why sometimes it’s better just to be lucky, when it comes to rings. The Mad Dog can thank Shaq and Kobe for those.
Championship: Los Angeles Lakers (‘08-‘09, ‘09-‘10)
Madsen wasn’t the only Laker big man lucky enough to win two straight championships without doing much. DJ Mbenga was also able to do it, a couple of years later. The Belgian-Congolese center was part of the Los Angeles Lakers team that won two straight championships led by no other than the great Kobe Bryant.
Mbenga was inactive for most part of the two Lakers’ championship seasons as played in only 72 games in two seasons, while averaging 2.7 and 2.1 points per outing in the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 seasons respectively. Mbenga also hardly made an appearance in the playoffs. If he was placed in the game, he would only be playing during the final minutes of a blow out game.
With Mbenga glued to the bench, the 7’0 scored only one field goal during the 2009 Playoffs and played in only three postseason games in 2010.
Despite playing in limited action, Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher, Lamar Odom, and Pau Gasol did the heavy lifting to tow the Lakers to two straight championships, at the expense of the Orlando Magic in 2009 and the Boston Celtics in 2010.
Luckily for Mbenga, he was able to win two straight championships by running up and down the court and sweating it out for about seven minutes per game.
Championship: Los Angeles Lakers (‘08-‘09, ‘09-‘10)
Before Luke Walton was part of the coaching staff of the successful Golden State Warriors, he was also one of the players that warmed the bench for the Lakers team that won two straight championships. He did start 34 games during the 2008-2009 season, but he could hardly do much as mustered only 5.0 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game. His playoffs stint that year wasn’t all too memorable as well, as he can only produce 3.8 points per game in 21 postseason outings.
His succeeding championship season was even more forgettable as he played only in 29 regular season games while scoring 2.4 points per outing. During the playoffs he even cut down further his production by logging in only 1.1 points per game. Based on the numbers alone, you can tell Walton didn’t really play a big part in the Lakers’ two-peat.
Despite being equipped with basketball genes as the son of Bill Walton, the 6’8 forward just couldn’t keep up with opposing NBA forwards defensively which is why Phil Jackson had to glue him to the bench. Fortunately for him, he had Kobe Bryant as a teammate to do all the major work for a championship ring.
Championship: Los Angeles Lakers (‘08-‘09, ‘09-‘10)
Josh Powell has been a journeyman in the NBA throughout his career, as he played for seven different teams in eight seasons. However, he has the bragging rights to claim that he is a two time NBA champion. The 6’9 power forward was also part of the Lakers’ two peat in 2009 and 2010 alongside the previously mentioned DJ Mbenga and Luke Walton. Powell was part of the Lakers reserves and mostly played limited minutes. During the two championship seasons, the former Lakers big man appeared in 60 and 63 games during the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 seasons, respectively.
Although he played in a good amount of games, Powell was never a difference maker that made memorable contributions during the Lakers’ two championship runs. During those two seasons, Powell mostly rode the bench and registered only 3.4 points and 2.4 rebounds per outing. He was also irrelevant in the playoffs, as he could only muster 1.4 points per game.
Although Powell never made an impact for the Lakers’ championship teams, he didn’t have to exert a Herculean effort to win more rings than great big men like Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Garnett, Karl Malone, and Charles Barkley combined. For a journeyman that was glued to the bench, that’s not a bad feat at all.
Championship: Los Angeles Lakers (‘08-‘09, ‘09-‘10)
Aside from DJ Mbenga, Josh Powell, and Luke Walton, Adam Morrison was also a prominent figure in the Lakers’ bench and stayed there for the most of his time with the franchise. After being traded by the Charlotte Bobcats midway through the season, Morrison only played eight games in his first season with Los Angeles, and averaged a measly 1.3 points and 1.0 rebounds per outing. He didn’t even see action in the whole postseason that year, but he was able to earn the first NBA championship of his career.
Morrison had more playing time in the succeeding season, as he appeared in 31 games. However, his game didn’t really make an impact. He only scored 2.4 points and grabbed 1.0 rebounds per game. Although he appeared in the playoffs in 2010, Morrison played only in two games during the first round against the Oklahoma City Thunder where he put up four points in each game. After that, Morrison just watched the rest of the playoffs from the Lakers bench and cheered his teammates to a championship.
In most cases, players chase after rings. But for Morrison it seemed like the rings chased him, as he automatically got two straight championships under his name by barely seeing action on the court.
Championship: Miami Heat (‘11-‘12, ‘12-‘13)
Juwan Howard was one of the veteran big men that the Miami Heat signed in order to compliment Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh. Back in the days, Howard was a solid big man for Washington, as he even earned All-Star honors in 1996. However, with exception to two straight championships, Howard’s performance with the Heat was quite uneventful.
Due to age and injuries, Howard could hardly keep up with opposing big men. At the same time, playing behind All-Star power forward Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem only caused him to see minimum action for the team. In fact, Howard would only step on the floor during garbage minutes or non-bearing games. In the 2011-2012 season, the 6’9 forward produced 1.5 points and grabbed 1.7 rebounds in only 28 games. The postseason also saw him made little to no impact as he could only average 0.8 points and 0.1 rebounds per outing and appearing only in nine out of the Heat’s 23 playoff games.
In the succeeding season, Howard barely saw action for the Heat, as he only played in seven games and didn’t even register a single minute in the 2013 Playoffs. Howard hanged up his sneakers for good after winning his second straight NBA ring. I guess he made a smart move to join a super team in the latter stage of his career.
Championship: Golden State Warriors (‘14-‘15, ‘16-‘17)
The Golden State Warriors were a hot team from 2015-2019, as they were led by Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and eventually Kevin Durant. They were simply unstoppable. One of the players that was fortunate to play with them was James McAdoo. Being teammates with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green sure does bring a lot of advantages. However when you’re competing for minutes alongside solid big men such as David Lee, Mareese Speights, and Andrew Bogut, your playing time obviously diminishes. McAdoo hardly saw action for the Warriors, as he only suited up for 15 games in his rookie year. In limited play, he produced 4.1 points and grabbed 2.5 boards per game. During the 2015 Playoffs, McAdoo was barely deployed, as he only saw action for two minutes per game and produced 0.8 points. Despite the limited play and production, the former Warriors big man was able to win his first championship during his rookie year.
A second championship came for McAdoo in 2017 in his third year in the league. It would’ve been McAdoo’s third championship had the Cavaliers did not pull the rug from under the Warriors, who were leading 3-1 in the NBA Finals. Although McAdoo played more games during this season, he competed for minutes against big men like David West, JaVale McGee, and Zaza Pachulia. Because of this, McAdoo was buried in the bench once again. In 52 games of action, the 6’9 big man logged in 2.8 points and 1.8 rebounds per game.
But with the hot hands of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant, McAdoo was hardly needed. He only needed to make 1.8 points per game in the 2017 Playoffs to earn himself another championship under his belt.
Championship: Golden State Warriors (‘17-‘18), Toronto Raptors (‘18-‘19)
Chris Boucher went undrafted in the 2017 NBA Draft. But luckily, he was picked up by the Warriors. He would only play a single game for the Golden State Warriors and logged in one minute and 19 seconds of play. He grabbed one rebound and missed his only field goal attempt. He didn’t even see action in the playoffs any longer. Despite playing only one game, Boucher was still part of the Warriors team, as he watched Curry, Thompson, Green, and Durant win the championship. As a result, Boucher won his first ever championship in his rookie year.
The 6’9 forward was eventually waived by the Warriors. However, he was signed by the Toronto Raptors. He was lucky in his rookie year, but that championship luck didn’t’t move away from him as his new team upset his former team in the NBA Finals, giving him his second championship. Boucher played more games for the Raptors, but he was hardly a difference maker for Toronto. He played 28 games this time (which isn’t a lot), as he scored 3.3 points and grabbed 2.0 rebounds per game. Boucher saw action also for the first time in the playoffs, but only played two games and put up 2.5 points and 0.5 boards per game. Nevertheless, it was enough to win him his second straight NBA ring. He can thank Kawhi Leonard and Fred VanVleet for that.
Championship: Chicago Bulls (‘95-‘96, ‘96-‘97, ‘97-‘98)
If you think winning two NBA championships as a benchwarmer is crazy, Dickey Simpkins won three straight with the Chicago Bulls that enjoyed its second edition of the three-peat. The former Bulls bigman had some games where he finished in double figures. However, for the most part of the Bulls’ three-peat reign, Simpkins’ contributions were just not quite relevant.
He averaged 3.6 points per game during the first championship season. To think that his game will improve playing alongside Dennis Rodman, Michael Jordan, and Scottie Pippen, unfortunately, Simpkins’ numbers even took a dip the following season, as he only put up 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per outing. Because of his minimal contributions, Simpkins wasn’t even deployed in the 1996 and 1997 Playoffs, as he watched Michael Jordan win two straight NBA championships.
In the 1997-1998 season, the 6’9 Center averaged 3.3 points and 1.9 rebounds per game which was a slight improvement from the previous season. He also finally got to play in the 1997 Playoffs, but he was hardly a factor. In 13 playoff games, he scored 1.2 points and grabbed 1.0 rebounds per game.
Although Simpkins didn’t need to do much, he still earned a three-peat alongside Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. That’s what a lot of basketball players would dream of.
Championship: Miami Heat (‘11-‘12, ‘12-‘13), Cleveland Cavaliers (‘15-‘16)
James Jones has been a knockdown shooter for the Heat franchise, and had some occasions that helped the Big Three’s hunt for a championship. He even took home the Three Point Shooting Trophy in 2011. However, it helps a lot when you’re a good friend of Lebron James. With James as his teammate, James Jones has registered a total of seven straight NBA Finals trips and won three NBA championships together.
James has admired Jones for his leadership and veteran presence in his teams. However statistically, Jones doesn’t really have a lot to show for it. His two championship rings with Miami saw him contribute very little in the postseason, as he only averaged 2.6 points per game on an inefficient 30% shooting from beyond the arc in 2012 and 1.0 points per game in just nine games of action. In his championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Jones mainly played during garbage time, as he only contributed 0.5 points on just a measly 14% shooting from downtown.
Jones’ championship collection hinged a lot on Lebron’s success. Nevertheless, he has so far the same number of rings as Lebron and has been to seven consecutive NBA Finals. For a role player, that’s pretty much a big feat.
Championship: Golden State Warriors (‘16-‘17, ‘17-‘18), Toronto Raptors (‘18-‘19)
If you thought Chris Boucher was lucky, Patrick McCaw is even luckier. McCaw became part of the Warriors team a season earlier than Boucher. But like Boucher, McCaw was hardly a big difference maker in his teams’ success. McCaw played 71 games for the Warriors in his rookie season and put up 4.0 points and 1.4 rebounds off the bench. He maintained those contributions in the postseason that year in 15 games which was enough to win his first NBA championship in his first stint in the NBA.
His second season in the NBA saw him put up similar numbers. However, he didn’t even need to contribute much to win his second straight championship during his rookie year, as he only averaged 0.7 points and 0.5 rebounds in just six games of action.
Just when you thought McCaw’s championship run was over when he was waived by the Warriors, McCaw eventually went to the Cleveland Cavaliers but didn’t make the team. The Raptors signed the 6’7 wingman and as the season unfolded, McCaw became a three time NBA Champion. And similar to his previous championship conquests, McCaw just had to watch from the bench and play limited minutes. He just needed to put up 0.5 points, 0.3 rebounds, and 0.4 assists per game in the playoffs, in order to match Lebron James’ and Dwayne Wade’s ring collection.
Patrick McCaw became just the first player ever to win three straight championships during his first three years in the league. It must be nice to have some of Patrick McCaw’s magic.
Championship: Detroit Pistons (‘88-‘89, ‘89-‘90), Chicago Bulls (‘95-‘96), Los Angeles Lakers (‘99-‘00)
John Salley was a good role player for the Detroit Pistons that won two straight NBA championships. However, he didn’t have to do much when he won two more championship rings with the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers that had three-peats of their own. Fortunately for John Salley, he didn’t have to do much in powerhouse teams that included teammates like Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman for the Bulls, and playing for the Lakers with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal.
In his stint with the Bulls, Salley only produced 2.1 points and 2.5 rebounds per game in just 17 games. His playoff numbers were even worse as he only put up 0.9 points and 0.7 boards per game. Salley eventually hanged up his sneakers after a season of playing oversees. However, he came out of retirement to play for the Los Angeles Lakers. His return to the league wasn’t grand as he only produced 1.6 points and 1.4 rebounds per outing. His playoff stint was just as bad as his playoff performance with the Bulls.
With superstar teammates that he had, Salley didn’t even really need to score a point per game just to win his last two NBA championships. Winning four NBA championships is not easy, but it helps to have great teammates around.
Championship: Chicago Bulls (‘90-‘91, ‘91-‘92, ‘92-‘93), San Antonio Spurs (‘98-‘99)
Will Perdue is a name that Chicago Bulls fans would know. He wasn’t the best center in his time, but not a lot of great big men in the league have four NBA rings under their belt. Perdue was lucky enough to be part of the Chicago Bulls team that enjoyed its first three-peat in the early 1990’s, thanks to Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen.
The Bulls center, at best, averaged four points and one rebound per game while mostly seeing just 11 minutes of action on the floor. As a result, he was barely utilized as well in the playoffs. He averaged 4.1, 2.5, and 1.9 points per game in 1991, 1992, 1993 NBA playoffs, respectively. Statistically, Perdue did not deserve three straight NBA championships.
Fortunately for Perdue, he found himself in another championship team in the San Antonio Spurs. To think that Perdue would have the championship experience to show for it, the big man once again barely contributed much on the court. In the 1998-1999 season, he averaged 2.4 points and 3.7 boards in just 37 games. During the playoffs, all he had to do was score 1.1 points and grab 2.3 rebounds per game to merit a fourth NBA Championship.
In terms of big men with four rings, surprisingly, Perdue finds himself with great company as matches with no other than Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal.